STILETTO by Daniel O’Malley | Review

It’s happening, people! After months and months of saying I would reading Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley I have finally done it! *pats own shoulder with pride*

As the sequel to The Rook, this second installment in the Checquy Files continues the story of Myfanwy Thomas from a different perspective with new characters, problems, and wrinkles. Stiletto is brimming with supernatural mishaps, snarky humor, and enough plot twists to give you whiplash.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is its humor. The dialogue is quick and clever and even descriptive paragraphs are wittily written. I always looked forward to the hilarious banter between Felicity and Odette. For instance:

“[A]s someone who has seen living forms changed and twisted beyond recognition…’ She trailed off awkwardly.

‘Yeah?’

‘I hate to say it, but this dress is the worst crime against nature I have ever seen in my life.’

Felicity cringed a little. The dress lay on the bed, malignant and resentful, like an angry jellyfish. It was technically an evening grown, in the same way that dirt is technically edible.”

It takes skill to make a book about violence, war, and scary scientific advancements funny without downplaying the seriousness of the aforementioned topics. Fortunately, Daniel O’Malley seems to have mastered this skill. Though Stiletto is quite comedic, it also discusses actual problems that our society faces today (masked in supernatural elements, of course): inequality and tension between different groups of people, applying morality to scientific advancements, terrorism, family loyalty in the face of political differences, etc. It might seem like this novel is filled with fantasy, but the story actually reflects more about reality than one might initially expect.

The most remarkable aspect of Stiletto is its impressive world-building and attention to detail. The structure, history, and operations of the Checquy as a branch of the government are absolutely fascinating. I love when writers are able to create fictional elements that can be seamlessly interwoven with normal society. Daniel O’Malley almost makes it seem as though these supernatural occurrences could be right around the corner, unbeknownst to the reader; rather, the Checquy have simply taken care of it without us knowing! The most fun part about fictional worlds is becoming invested in them, which is exactly the opportunity the author provides the reader with Stiletto. 

Interestingly, this novel’s strength is also its weakness. Though the world-building is fascinating, it also slows down the pace of the story considerably. Sometimes there are too many “info dumps” (sections of the novel solely dedicated to rambling off information without actually furthering the plot). These sections aren’t explicitly necessary or relevant in the long run. I feel as though many of these “info dumps” could have been summarized instead of dragging on for pages and pages.

I might sound like a hypocrite for simultaneously praising and criticizing the intense world-building in this series; however, I believe it’s important (and possible) to find a careful balance between too many details and not enough information. Rather than criticizing the fictional world itself, I’m commenting on the way that the world is constructed.

Sometimes sequels are hit or miss, but Stiletto certainly hits the target. I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in supernatural creatures, secret government operations, and snarky banter.

What are your thoughts on Stiletto? Have you read The Rook? Have any recommendations for similar books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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7 Reasons to Read THE SOUND AND THE FURY

William Faulkner’s classic novel The Sound and the Fury holds a special place in my heart as the first book I was ever assigned to read in college. Needless to say, we were all quite confused in my Introduction to Literature class. Why was Benjy also named Maury? Who were all of these different narrators? What happened to Quentin? And why were there suddenly two people named Quentin? We were fortunate enough to have a patient professor who answered these and countless other questions that we hurled at him. Gradually I came to realize and appreciate the brilliance of the novel and I promised myself that I would pick it up again someday.

Little did I know that day would come two years later as I was preparing for my Oxford tutorials.  Rereading The Sound and the Fury magnified my appreciation of it tenfold. Now that I understood the basic plot, I could focus more on the characters, language, and structure of the novel. This experience encapsulates why I love to reread books, especially ones as complex and intense as those that Faulkner writes.

In an attempt to spread my love for this novel, here are seven reasons why you should read The Sound and the Fury:

1 || Yoknapatawpha County. This novel is a great introduction to Yoknapatawpha County, the fictional county in Jefferson, Mississippi in which many of Faulkner’s novels and short stories take place.

2 || Narrative structure. With multiple narrators, narration styles, and dates, this story is bound to make your head spin at times (which might sound awful, but it’s actually really thought-provoking and fascinating and fun).

3 || It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. Reading this novel is like putting together an enormous jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the final product is supposed to look like. Faulkner drops bits and pieces of information throughout the story, leaving the reader to make sense of the details. It feels amazing when you finally feel like you understand another aspect of the story!

4 || Names. One of the things that fascinates me about The Sound and the Fury (and Faulkner’s texts in general) is the immense power and importance of names. An obvious example is Maury, who is renamed Benjamin (shortened to Benjy) because his mother feels as though it is a better Christian name.

5 || Faulkner’s writing. It’s difficult to explain the beauty and brilliance of Faulkner’s writing—it’s much better to actually read it for yourself. (Trust me, it’s worth it.)

6 || Memorable characters. From independent Caddy and patient Dilsey to sorrowful Quentin and fiery Quentin, Faulkner’s characters are not easily forgotten. There are so many characters in this novel, yet they all have such interesting pasts and multifaceted personalities.

7 || It’ll make you think. The Sound and the Fury is a book that I could read over and over again and still walk away with something new to chew on until the next time I read it. Gender, race, class, growing up, time, truth, family, identity—you name it and Faulkner has discussed it!

Have I convinced you yet? What are your thoughts on The Sound and the Fury? What’s your favorite novel by Faulkner? Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley | Review

Sometimes it seems as though certain books will never leave your TBR… until you finally force yourself to check them out of the library and read them in one sitting!

This was my situation with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a classic novel set in London during the year 2540. I’ve been intrigued by the synopsis ever since reading George Orwell’s 1984 a few years ago, yet for some reason I never got around to reading it until recently. (Was it Watsky’s song “Brave New World” that finally pushed me to action? Perhaps.)

Brave New World surprised me with its witty humor and snark. Of course, it’s incredibly dark humor– children are treated as mere numbers and essentially brainwashed into conforming to societal norms– but there are certainly ridiculous parts that made me laugh out loud. It’s precisely these moments of laughter when I realized the brilliance of this novel: it makes you realize that some elements of Huxley’s fictional society are also present in our modern reality. Many of us would rather be entertained and distracted rather than face actual problems that must be solved. Sometimes we treat relationships as a means to our own pleasure rather than a mutual connection between two people. We crave comfort, familiarity, and ease while simultaneously yearning for something more. Above all, we avoid things that are uncomfortable, painful, and unpleasant.

“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.”

Throughout the novel Huxley emphasizes the importance and value of hard work, perseverance, and taking chances. The argument is that when everything comes quickly and easy to everyone, the value of things, people, and ideas are soon lost.

“The Savage nodded, frowning. “You got rid of them. Yes, that’s just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether ’tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows or outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them…But you don’t do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy.”

…”What you need,” the Savage went on, “is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.”

As the facade fades away, the reader realizes that what appears to be a utopian world is actually a dystopian society masked in false promises and illusions. I love Brave New World for the way it makes you think about our own society and what we value in our lives today. It’s interesting to think about how this novel was first published in 1932 yet it’s still relevant almost a century later. To me, this endurance is the definition of a classic.

My only regret is not having read this book sooner. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!

What are your thoughts on Brave New World? Have any recommendations of similar books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Liebster Award | 7

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all having a lovely day! Today I’m here to share another Liebster Award. Thanks so much to Julianna @ Blots of Ink and Words for nominating me!! These kinds of awards are always fun because you never know what questions you might be asked to answer.

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions they gave you.
  • Nominate 11 blogs and let them know they’ve been tagged.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in high school as a way to keep a record of my thoughts on what I read. I had no idea that there was such a wonderful book blogging community!

What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

Definitely the people I’ve met and the great conversations I’ve had. There are so many lovely bookworms!

What causes you the most pain (bookish related)?

When people judge others for reading what they love to read.

What are the main reasons you’ll follow a blog?

An enthusiastic, kind blogger who writes creative content and engages in the blogging community.

What type of book covers do you like the most?

Simple ones! I adore beautiful typography or white backgrounds with pops of color. This explains my absolute love for the cover of George Watsky’s How to Ruin Everything. 

What’s your favorite genre of books and why?

I love classic literature because it makes me feel connected to so many people, places, and points in history.

Why did you start reading?

I was lucky enough to have parents, teachers, and other adults in my life when I was a kid who instilled a love of reading in me from a young age. I have vivid memories of my parents reading certain books to me before bed and me sitting on the floor of my third-grade classroom as my teacher read us books like Bridge to Terabithia and Pictures of Hollis Woods. I’ll be forever grateful for them!

What happened if someone walked up to you and tried to fight you?

I would turn and run.

What would your “happy place” include?

A mountaintop with clear blue skies and an amazing view for miles around.

What would you do if you were stranded on an island?

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t last long. In fact, I would probably just think about the TV show Lost for a while.

What makes you bored?

Math. Physics. Driving in traffic.

YOU!!

I know I’m supposed to create my own list of questions, but I’m going to cheat a little and pass on the questions that Julianna asked me. They were so much fun to answer! (Can you tell I’m being buried alive by course work right now due to my lack of blogging time?)

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

DRACULA by Bram Stoker | Review

Sometimes I reread books and love them even more the second time around.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not one of those books.

When I read it for the first time a few years ago I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t something I ever thought I would willingly read again. (And I was right: I read it again not because I wanted to but because my required reading list told me to.) I remember wishing that Count Dracula played a larger role in the story beyond the first one hundred pages or so and that the novel in general would have been a bit shorter.

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Holly of the past.

Dracula frustrates me for a number of reasons. The absence of Count Dracula through the majority of the book is disappointing. The plot is needlessly convoluted and the pacing is too slow. At first I liked how the story is told through journal entries and letters, but as I read on I realized that this style of narration was preventing the novel from moving at a faster speed. It also felt as though I was being told the same ideas and plot points three or four times after reading about it from all of the different characters’ perspectives. After a while most of the journal entries and letters felt really redundant.

This book is also frustrating due to the prior knowledge we have about the story before we even open to the first page. We know that Count Dracula is a vampire from cultural context, meaning that the surprise is completely taken away. When Lucy becomes sick later on in the novel it’s immediately obvious that vampires are the cause, yet it takes hundreds of pages for the characters to come to that same conclusion. In a strange way, reading Dracula felt like reading a story that I’ve known my whole life.

I understand why Dracula is an iconic novel and I appreciate it for being a well-written and meticulously crafted book; however, it’s simply not something that I find engaging, entertaining, or enjoyable to read.

What are your thoughts on Dracula? Have any spooky reading recommendations for the Halloween season? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë | Review

I’ll admit that when I first read Wuthering Heights a few years ago I wasn’t very impressed. The characters were ridiculously melodramatic, the names were confusing, and there seemed to be no point to this dark, tumultuous novel. However, recently reading it again for one of my courses has made me question my initial impressions. They say that some things get better with age; for me, Emily Brontë’s classic novel Wuthering Heights certainly falls into that category.

First, I am fascinated by the layered narration through which Emily tells her story within a story. Initially the reader is led to believe that Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Heathcliff’s most recent tenant, will be narrating the novel; however, one soon realizes that we are told the story by Nelly Dean through the ears of Mr. Lockwood. This layered narration adds depth and context to the story of Cathy and Heathcliff. Reading Wuthering Heights almost feels as though you are being read an unsettling bedtime story that will surely give you nightmares nights to come.

Since I had already read this book once before, I now had the luxury of reading it again without having to worry about understanding the basic plot. (Also, pro tip: creating character maps beforehand is a life saver!) Instead, I could now focus on the characters themselves and the motivations behind their behavior. Rather than be frustrated by their melodramatic tendencies, I started to admire how Emily had crafted such memorable characters that reflected and interacted with their surroundings in such interesting ways. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange seemed almost more like characters than locations, influencing what occurred within their formidable walls.

Heathcliff caught my attention in particular; as I’m sure he does for many readers. I began to notice that most descriptions of his appearance, demeanor, and actions portray him more as an animal than a man. He is wild, savage, ruthless, and lacks any semblance of tact, courtesy, and empathy. Yet why is it that I still felt bad for this cruel “creature”? Emily’s ability to foster a connection between the reader and Heathcliff is one of the many brilliant aspects of this novel. Heathcliff may be rude and violent and unpredictable, but he is still human. The image of Heathcliff as a maltreated young orphan never quite goes away.

I wouldn’t say that Wuthering Heights is an enjoyable novel to read; rather, it is endlessly fascinating, engaging, and thought-provoking. I appreciate this text for challenging me as a reader and making me think about connections between characters, settings, and language more deeply; however, it’s not something I would choose to pick up on a whim or bring along with me for a relaxing day at the beach. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this novel again and I can even see myself picking it up for a third time in the future.

What are your thoughts on Wuthering Heights? Do your opinions of novels change when you reread them? Have any recommendations of what I should read next? Let me know in the comment 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

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