Tags

The Totally Should’ve Book Tag | 2

Hope you’re all having a lovely Friday! Today I’m here with the Totally Should’ve Book Tag, which I was tagged for by Norees @ Nor Reads Too Great.  This tag was created by EmmmaBooks. I’ve done this tag once before, but I always like repeating tags because it’s interesting to see how my answers change (if you’d like, you can check out my first version of this tag here). Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

I would love to know what happens to Ifemelu next in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I feel like there’s so much of her story left to tell, especially since the novel doesn’t leave off on a particularly conclusive note. And this book was so popular that I feel like she would definitely have an audience for it… just saying! (*hopes that somehow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is listening*)

Totally should’ve had a spin-off series

I would gobble up a spin-off series based on one of the side characters in Maggie Stiefvaters Raven Cycle. Can you imagine a series based on Gansey? Or Ronan? Or Noah? Or any of Blue’s family members? Or even someone else living in the same town experiencing similar fantastical things? I would even take a series of novellas about different characters… honestly, these are golden ideas here!

An author who should totally write more books

adore both of Mindy’s Kalings books (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?) and have been (im)patiently waiting for her to write more. I love reading personal essays/memoirs like these, especially when they’re written with the humor, wit, genuineness, and eloquence of Mindy Kaling’s writing style.

Totally should’ve ended differently

Although I thought Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was excellent, I thought it would have gone in a very different direction than it did. I’m not necessarily saying that it needed to end differently, but it would be interesting to see what the novel could have been like had she taken another path with it. (Really, I would have liked more answers. I just want closure!)

Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

Honestly, Sarah Dessen deserves a movie franchise more than any other author I know. She’s written so many novels that could have been turned into teenage rom-coms by now!! Why hasn’t anyone picked these up? Why has all the glory gone to Nicholas Sparks, or even John Green? (Although don’t get me wrong, I love a good John Green book/movie.) This may be the greatest wonder of the world.

Totally should’ve had a TV series

Rather than be a four hour film, I feel like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell might be better suited to being a TV series. Imagine all the details that could be expanded upon in a TV series! They could include all the little events of this 1057 page tome and have plenty of time for fully explained character development. And think of the time they could spend showing the setting! Ah, this would be such a good television series…

Totally should’ve only had one point of view

Although I really admire Yvonne Vera’s novel The Stone Virgins for its striking, powerful look at violence in Zimbabwean society before, during, and after the war for independence, the alternating perspectives between the victim and the rapist/murderer are very, very, very unsettling. I understand that the novel wouldn’t have the same hard-hitting impact without it, but having to read and write about this book over and over and over again was pretty challenging emotionally.

Totally should’ve had a cover change

I love a good random Faulkner novel, but I feel like there are very few pretty editions of his books. Are cover designers trying to match the often somber, dark tone of his novels? Or have they just given up because they figure Faulkner novels are dull classics that aren’t really worth spicing up with a pleasant cover design? (I beg to differ!) All I’m saying is that we Faulkner fans would greatly appreciate a little bit of pizazz when it comes to his cover designs (or some attractive font at the very least).

Totally should’ve kept the original covers

I’m going with Sarah Dessen again for this one (maybe because summer always nostalgically reminds me of Sarah Dessen?). I grew up with the older covers, the ones with the girls without heads, and now whenever I see these new covers I’m so confused. Although I admit that these may be more aesthetically pleasing to look at, I can’t help but miss the old ones!

Totally should’ve stopped at one book

I’m pretty sure this was my answer for this prompt when I did this tag the first time, and if so I wholeheartedly stand by it: I just saw no reason that Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games had to be a trilogy that seemed to drag and repeat itself. Personally, I feel like The Hunger Games would have been perfectly fine as a longer novel, or at the very least a duology.

There you have it! Thanks again to Norees for tagging me! To pass along the fun, I’d like to tag Christine @ Life with All the Books, Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts,  and Emma @ Daylight Awaits–and anyone else who would like to do this tag!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: LONG Books I Can’t Believe I Read

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic set by The Artsy Reader Girl features ten books that we can’t believe we’ve read. However, instead of talking about the actual content of the books, I’ve decided to take a different perspective on this topic; instead, I’ll be focusing on book length. Without further ado, here are ten LONG books I can’t believe I read (what a time commitment!).

What are the longest books you’ve read? What books are you surprised you read for whatever reason? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

Ah, the movie that everyone has been talking about for what feels like ages. I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant to watch the new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast; however, I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, there were some parts that I definitely could have done without (how about that little time travel scene through the random magical book?!) but as a whole I thought it was pretty well done. Gaston and Lefou stole the show with their humor and chemistry, and I haven’t been able to stop the Beast’s song “Evermore” from playing over and over again in my mind. But don’t worry: the original animated version will always hold a special place in my heart. ❤

Today I’m here to share the Beauty and the Beast Book Tag! Thanks so much to Silanur @ Aloof Books for tagging me!! Without further ado, let’s get on with the questions. (In case you’re wondering, these awesome Beauty and the Beast graphics are from the original creator of the tag, Du Livre.)

A villain you can’t help but love.

I’m not sure if he is technically considered a villain or more of an anti-hero, but regardless I’m going to say Victor from Vicious by V.E. Schwab. I love Schwab shows us the softer, moral side of him, causing us to even question his villain status in the first place. He and Eli also concoct one of the most interesting evil schemes I’ve ever read about. As someone who regularly carries epi-pens around with them for allergy reasons, the thought of them being used to revive people from near death and give them superhuman powers is super fascinating to me.

Your OTP. 

As per usual, I’m going to answer this question by saying Taylor and Jonah from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. In the realm of fictional romantic relationships, theirs is one that strikes me as nearing the realm of realistic (obviously not entirely, but sort of close). Their relationship takes time to develop and there are plenty of ups and downs, just like in real life. Each time I reread this book (which, at this point, has been more times than I can reliably keep track of) I can’t help but eagerly root for them again and again even though I know how the story will end.

A character that’s destined for bigger things. 

Though there are a plethora of characters that fit this description, I’ve ultimately decided to go with Blue Sargent from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Not only is Blue intelligent, determined, and hard-working, but she is also incredibly kindhearted and deserves to achieve her dreams in life. Whether those goals include attending college, exploring the world, starting a family, or all three, I hope she gets there. Fingers crossed that fictional life treats her well!

A book that makes you hungry. 

It might seem strange at first, but I’m going to say The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Even though the majority of this book discusses the many issues plaguing our modern-day food production industry, it nevertheless makes me want to chow down on some local veggies or freshly picked fruit. One thing’s for certain: it definitely doesn’t make me eager to swing into a McDonald’s drive-thru window any time soon!

Opposites attract. 

The first couple that popped into my mind when I read this prompt was Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, which I think is pretty fitting. Though they are both headstrong and have dynamic, bold personalities, they nevertheless come from very different positions in society. Hardly seem to agree on anything.

What books would you have chosen for this tag? What do you think of the books that I’ve mentioned? Most importantly, what did YOU think of the new Beauty and the Beast movie? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

The Captain America Book Tag

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A while ago I saw the Captain America Book Tag on Bookmark Lit and even though I wasn’t specifically tagged I knew I would have to do it eventually. Captain America is by far my favorite Marvel Avenger and the fact that this tag blends this amazing hero with books makes me want to give Morgan @ Gone with the Words, the creator of this book tag, a standing ovation.

Without further ado, let’s start the tag!

Great ExpectationsSteve Rogers/Captain America: a book with a big character transformation

Pip from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is just one of the many characters in this classic novel that undergoes a massive amount of character development over the course of the story. They don’t call it a bildungsroman for nothing!

18405Peggy Carter: a book with a strong female protagonist

If it’s a strong, independent, determined, headstrong female protagonist you want, then look no further than Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Though she can be stubborn, rash, and melodramatic, there’s no doubting her incredible strength in the face of poverty, death, and heartbreak.

The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterBucky Barnes: a book with your ultimate BROTP

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is oozing with BROTPs galore. You can always count on Maggie Stiefvater to write adorable, relatable, and enviable friendships in general. (Honestly, just one of countless reasons to read this fantastic series!)

looking for alaskaHowling Commandos: a book with squad goals

Miles’ eclectic group of friends has always been one of the many reasons why I love Looking for Alaska by John Green. They have so much fun with their wacky adventures and it’s clear that they really care for and support one another, as all good friends should.

pride and prejudice cover 2Red Skull: a book with a cliché plot

I’m not going to lie: at this point, so many people have copied her that the plot of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice seems pretty cliché nowadays. Of course, we can’t really blame her for this– it has been centuries since it was written, after all!

23732096-2Natasha Romanoff: a book with a snarky side character

Nancy from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North & Erica Henderson is the ultimate snark side character. She’s smart, has a hilarious dry sense of humor, and is always ready with a quick quip or two to liven things up.

When We CollidedSam Wilson: a book with a friendship meet cute.

When We Collided by Emery Lord is filled with adorable moments, but one of the cutest is when John and Vivi first meet at the pottery shop. Their cuteness is even multiplied by the inclusion of Jonah’s little sister in the scene. It doesn’t get more adorable than that!

more than this coverWinter Soldier: a book with a great twist (plot twist or retelling)

How could I not highlight the amazing plot twist of More Than This by Patrick Ness? I still remember the shock I felt when I first read it, even though it was a few years ago now. I never saw it coming!

gone coverI’m Just A Kid from Brooklyn: a book with a memorable setting/character backstory

Nearly all of the characters in the Gone series by Michael Grant have interesting, surprising, and complex backstories. Considering how many characters are introduced throughout these six books, that’s quite a feat!

matched coverDo You Two…. Fondue?: a book with a love triangle

SO. MANY. LOVE. TRIANGLES. There are a million books to choose from, but I’ll go with Matched by Ally Condie. I’m just going to be honest with you all: this love triangle was really annoying and simply bothersome. Like with most love triangles, there’s just so much drama involved!

life after life coverYou’ve Been Asleep, Cap: a book you love with a dual timeline/time travel

I’m not really sure what to call the twisting and turning timeline of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson…. Time travel? Multiple perspectives? Rewriting history? Whatever you’d like to call it, I’ve never read a novel that plays with time quite like this one does.

jellicoe road coverTil The End Of The Line: a book with the OTP to end all OTPs

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Taylor and Jonah from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta are my favorite OTP, if I had to choose just one. If you haven’t read this book already, what are you waiting for?! ❤

IlluminaeI Had A Date: a book with a cliffhanger

I remember finishing Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and immediately wanting to read a sequel. The ending was way more intense and fast-paced than expected, especially considering the experimental format of the book itself. If you want a book that will leave you hanging, I definitely recommend this one!

fangirl coverI Understood That Reference: a book with a pop culture reference

The first book that popped into my mind when I read this prompt was predictably Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Though the pop culture reference in this book is fictional, Simon Snow resembles a popular magical series about wizards closely enough that I feel like it mirrors an actual reference.

What are your answers to these prompts? What do you think about the books I’ve mentioned? Who is your favorite superhero? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of 2016

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Happy Tuesday!! Can you believe that 2016 has almost come to a close? It feels like it was New Year’s Day just yesterday, yet here we are as 2017 fast approaches. I’ve been fortunate to have read a plethora of fantastic books this past year, so narrowing down a list of my Top Ten Best Books of 2016 was no easy feat. Nevertheless, here are the best books I’ve read in 2016 in the order that I read them:

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What are some of the best books that you read in 2016? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

The Jingle Bell Tag

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If I had to name my favorite genre of music, it would probably be Christmas music. Not only is there a song for every mood and situation and level of festivity you’re feeling, but holiday tunes also never fail to make me smile. (Except for “Christmas Shoes.” That song is the definition of SAD.) As you can imagine, I was so excited when I discovered that I had been tagged in the Jingle Bell Tag, created by Richard @ The Humpo Show. Thanks so much to Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser for tagging me!

Now, on with the merry festivities!

“All I Want For Christmas Is You…” | What book do you want to see under the Christmas Tree?

I actually didn’t ask for any books for Christmas this year (*gasp* I know, I’m trying to show some self-control). Honestly, if Santa could buy me my textbooks for next semester that would be superb…

My Antonia“Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time…” | What book that you have read this year have you enjoyed the most?

Oooh, what a tough question! I don’t think I’ll be able to choose just one because I’ve read a bunch of fantastic books in 2016, so I’ll go with three that come to mind: My Ántonia by Willa Cather, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

The_BFG_(Dahl_novel_-_cover_art)Elf | What book unleashes your inner child?

The BFG by Roald Dahl is always my go-to answer for this kind of question. It was my favorite book when I was in elementary school and after rereading it recently I can say that it’s still one of my favorite stories. Not only is it adorable, but it’s incredibly clever, witty, and well-written. If you’re not convinced, here are my top 8 reasons why you should read this lovely little gem (but believe me, there are way more than just eight!).

my true love gave to me cover“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” | Which book has the most festive look to it?

Definitely My True Love Gave to Me! This collection of holiday stories edited by Stephanie Perkins is perfect for this festive time of year. I love the variety of authors as well as the many different holidays that are represented within the twelve stories. There’s bound to be something for every reader to enjoy, no matter what holiday you celebrate or what kind of festive mood you’re in!

Vicious by V.E. SchwabThe Grinch | Your favourite villain…

Again, here’s another go-to answer of mine: Victor and Eli from Vicious by V.E. Schwab. These villains are dark and twisted, but there’s also a sense of morality and ambiguity to them. This is particularly true with Victor, who might be considered more of an anti-hero than an actual villain. Regardless, these characters have stuck in my mind ever since their first wild adventure.

jane eyre coverThe Holiday | Name your favourite TWO couples…

One: Taylor and Jonah from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (as if I haven’t talked about this adorable duo enough on this blog…). Two: Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Even though they’re not actually a couple for the majority of the novel, I think the way they come together at the end is really beautiful. They’re certainly not perfect, but they show that love doesn’t have to be.

16130What book would you like to give as a present to your followers?

Oh, so many amazing books to choose from! I think that I’ll have to go with Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This hefty biography is incredibly well-written and Hamilton’s life is so interesting and unbelievable that it almost reads like fiction. It’s also really fun to read it with songs from the Hamilton musical playing in the background– so much US history at once!!

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I also tag YOU, lovely reader!!

What are your answers to these prompts? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Most importantly, what’s your favorite Christmas song? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors I Read in 2016

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Happy Tuesday! Now that December is here, it’s that time again when we start reflecting on the past year and all of the wonderful books we read. This week we’re focusing on the writers of those wonderful books by sharing the Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2016. Thanks to all of the assigned reading that I have to do for my classes and awesome recommendations from friends, I have been introduced to a lot of great writers whose work I might not have otherwise picked up.

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Overall, I read work by some amazing new-to-me authors this year, and I can’t wait to see what new authors 2017 will bring!

What are your favorite authors that you read for the first time this year? What do you think of the authors on my list? Any other books by them that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish, Discussion

My Ideal Book Conference Panel | Discussion

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Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a fantastic day! Recently I was contacted by Eventbrite, the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world, to write a post as part of their effort to promote local event-planning. Eventbrite works with people to find and plan successful, fun, and exciting events in their areas. If you would like to check out their services, you can do so by visiting their conference management page.

I ultimately agreed to write this post because I love the prompt that I was given: What would my dream book conference panel look like? Who would speak and what would they discuss?

At first thought a few obvious names popped into my head, such as J.K. Rowling, John Green, and Maggie Stiefvater. However, after some thought I realized what would be even more incredible than speaking with these contemporary authors: hearing from those writers who can no longer voice their opinions. In particular, I would be interested to know what fueled their writing, how often they drew on their own personal experiences, and perhaps what their views would be on a few contentions modern-day issues.

Another aspect I’ve thought about when constructing my ideal panel is representation; in other words, whose voices haven’t been heard as loudly or clearly as those of others throughout history? With this in mind I’ve decided to create a panel of women writers in an effort to gain a clearer, fuller, uncensored understanding of their perspectives. There are many women writers whose views would be fascinating to hear more about, but for the sake of this post I have only chosen two:

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Born in 1873 in Virginia, Willa Cather led a life of remarkable independence and achievement. Not only was she a gifted writer (as her novel My Ántonia can surely attest) but she was also a very interesting person in the way that she bent gender norms of the time period. Defying the traditional role of women as dutiful wives, Cather never married and managed to financially support herself through teaching, editing, and the publication of her own writing. Even more intriguing was the way she adopted masculine dress and hairstyles as well as a masculine point of view in much of her fictional work. The majority of her close friends were women and it was rumored that she had sexual relations with Edith Lewis, with whom she lived for nearly forty years.

mte5ndg0mdu0ote3ndq5mjmxThough I wouldn’t want to pry too pointedly into her personal life, I would love to hear her answers to the following questions:

  • Did you purposefully set out to play with gender norms and identities in your writing or was it something that was incorporated naturally as your characters developed?
  • What was it like to live so independently during a time when women were viewed as always being dependent on men?
  • Any advice for modern women trying to do the same?
  • What are your thoughts on current debates surrounding sexuality and gender?

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Since reading Gone with the Wind over the summer I’ve been eager to learn more about the author of this hefty tome. Born in 1900 in Georgia, Margaret Mitchell (also known by her pseudonym Peggy Mitchell) wrote primarily as a journalist and published only a single novel during her lifetime. Largely inspired and influenced by the Civil War stories of her older family members, Mitchell turned to this tumultuous time period when she decided to write a novel while recovering from an ankle injury. However, despite its immense popularity among readers of the general public, the novel has been frequently criticized for perpetuating issues involving race relations through its portrayal of African Americans and the Civil War South.

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Needless to say, I’d be ecstatic to have the opportunity to ask this influential writer the following questions:

  • Did you draw on your own life experiences and those of your relatives a lot while writing Gone with the Wind? 
  • In what ways, if any, is the character Scarlett O’Hara a reflection of yourself?
  • Did you ever want to write another novel?
  • What is your response to the criticism your novel has received?
  • Was your intent to entertain? Educate? Both? Neither?
  • What are your thoughts on current race relations issues in the United States?

That concludes my bookish panel! It may seem short, but I would much rather have time to go in-depth with these two women than only be able to hear a few words from a large group of authors. Big thanks to Everbrite for sparking this fun and interesting discussion!

What would your dream book conference panel look like? Who would speak and what questions would you ask? What do you think of my bookish panel? Have you ever been to a book conference panel in real life? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You’ve Read Because of Recommendations

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Happy Tuesday! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is about one of the greatest things about being part of a bookish community: recommendations. Whether you’ve been recommended books by friends, family, or even other bloggers, it’s always exciting to dive into a story that you know someone else has loved. Today I’m going to share Ten Books I’ve Read Because of Recommendations that I recommend to all of YOU!

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3109The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

My friend recommended this book to me after I heard about it in my Introduction to Anthropology class last semester. In fact, she was nice enough to loan me her copy of it to read over the summer. This book will definitely make you think twice about the food you eat!

497118The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This book was recommended to me by one of my closest friends (and now roommate!). I read it over the summer and was completely blown away by how cleverness, creativity, and uniqueness of this little gem. Though it may be categorized as a children’s novel, I would highly recommend it to everyone!

lock and key coverLock and Key by Sarah Dessen

I would venture to say that this is one of the very first books a friend ever recommended to me back in middle school. I had never heard of Sarah Dessen before, so this book definitely marks the beginning of my Dessen/YA romance phase.

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All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

You’re all probably sick and tired of me saying how much I love this novel, but I’m going to say it again: I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It was recommended to me by my high school librarian when I was a senior, solidifying the fact that she has impeccable taste in books.

7597One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

My Spanish professor recommended this classic novel to us numerous times last year, so over the summer I finally decided to read it. I’m so happy to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read.

more than this coverMore Than This by Patrick Ness

During my last two years of high school I worked at my local public library, which meant that I got really close to plenty of librarians who always recommended excellent books to me. As per usual, Patrick Ness did not disappoint with this suspenseful, gripping novel!

the handmaid's tale coverThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This novel was another amazing recommendation from my high school librarian. I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood before, but now I feel like I need to read everything she’s ever written. If you have any recommendations on what I should read next, I’d greatly appreciate it!

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18405Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

This tome was highly recommended to me by the lovely Jillianwith good reason: it’s FANTASTIC. It was much darker and different from what I initially expected, but that made it all the more interesting to read. It’s about so much more than a love story: Mitchell expertly handles topics such as politics, gender roles, and class conflicts.

the raven boysThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I couldn’t even count the number of bloggers who recommended this captivating, beautifully written series to me! I had read a few of Stiefvater’s novels before diving into this series, but in my opinion these books are definitely among her best.

we were liars coverWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Again, I can’t pinpoint exactly who recommended this book to me because the buzz surrounding it in the online bookish community was ENORMOUS. This is certainly a case of the “hype monster,” but in this scenario it worked out to my advantage– I loved this book!

I highly recommend all of these books, so be sure to check them out!

What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? What great books have you read because of recommendations? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books, Classics Club Challenge

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell | Review

18405Before reading Gone with the Wind I had imagined that it would be a tragic tale of star-crossed romance set against the dramatic backdrop of the Civil War. In all honestly, I wondered how the such a story could possibly go one for over a staggering one thousand pages.

Boy, do I stand corrected.

In writing Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell has accomplished an astounding feat: creating a story that encompasses nearly the entire spectrum of emotions in the human experience, all while critiquing southern society, stereotypical gender roles, and other issues during the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. This tome is so much more than a simple love story– frankly, anyone who says otherwise clearly hasn’t read it!

I was blown away by the comprehensiveness of this novel, the way that Mitchell is able to write with such meticulous attention to detail over fifty years after these historic events took place. This book was published in 1937, but I would have sworn that Mitchell lived through the time period herself. She must have been one amazing researcher!

I’d be amiss if I didn’t spend some time discussing when and where this story takes place. The setting is almost like a character in itself, particularly in the way it develops and changes over time. Gone with the Wind is set in the South (specifically Georgia) and spans from the outbreak of the Civil War to well into the Reconstruction Era. The reader can do nothing but anxiously watch as the peaceful, go-lucky Southern society Scarlett first inhabits transforms into a war-torn, violent, impoverished landscape. However, this setting goes far beyond simple geography; instead, it expands to include the political, economic, and social issues of the time period. What I love about Mitchell’s craftsmanship is her ability to inform and orientate any reader of this setting, regardless of their amount of prior knowledge. She uses the same methods to introduce the Reconstruction Era, making the distinction between these two dark times in American history. The setting has an enormous influence on the characters, not only on the decisions they make but on their personalities as well. Mitchell makes this abundantly clear, emphasizing the destructive role that warfare can play the lives of soldiers and civilians alike.

Though the historic setting is certainly a dynamic force throughout the novel, it cannot compete with the commanding presence of Scarlett O’Hara. Though at first glance she appears to be a rather shallow, impressionable, naive teen, Scarlett soon proves that she is a determined, intelligent, capable woman. She is a fiery, courageous, strong female character, and I admire the way she stands up against the stereotypical gender roles of society. Scarlett refuses to be the submissive wife who solely occupies the domestic sphere; instead, she boldly steps into the masculine world of business. This is not to say that Scarlett is always easy to like– she often frustrated me with her coldness, her ruthlessness, her selfishness– but ultimately I couldn’t help but wish her the best.

IMG_9420Interestingly enough, it seems as though Scarlett has a counterpart in this novel: Melanie. Wife of Ashley and the apparent embodiment of Scarlett’s mother Ellen, Melanie is the opposite of Scarlett in many ways. She is gentle, kind, caring, soft spoken, motherly, and an obedient wife. However, there is also a spark of fire in Melanie, a flame waiting to flourish. When it is ignited, Melanie is as strong and brave as Scarlett, willing to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves. She is fiercely loyal, unfailingly selfless, and incredibly thoughtful. Scarlett’s hatred of Melanie really bothered me at times because I don’t think Melanie did anything to deserve such disdain. In my opinion, Melanie is one of the most fascinating characters in this story– she’s surprisingly complex, with numerous hidden layers that I never expected.

And then there’s Rhett Butler: the infamous wealthy gentleman who I’m convinced is a literary form of Jack Sparrow. He’s simultaneously loved and loathed, genuine and deceptive, kind and cruel. My opinion of Rhett changed countless times throughout the novel, and I honestly still don’t have a very clear understanding of this man. Here’s the maddening complexity of Rhett: he’s an ambiguous character, always straddling the line between good and evil. One page I would be hoping that he would declare his love for Scarlett, and the next I resolutely refuted my own prior wish. While I loved his sarcasm, wit, intelligence, and realistic view of the war and life and general, Rhett ultimately left a sour taste in my mouth. I was surprised and unsettled by his behavior towards the end, although I don’t want to spoil the conclusion for anyone who has yet to read this classic.

The ending itself filled me with so many mixed emotions it took me several days to form a solid opinion of it. The last fifty pages or so took a shocking turn down a dark, twisting spiral that I never saw coming. To be frank, Margaret Mitchell does not deliver the happy ending I was hoping to receive after reading over a thousand pages of this story. This remark isn’t meant to sound bitter (well, maybe a little); rather, it shows that Mitchell was trying to accomplish something else with this work besides mere entertainment. The ending of Gone with the Wind drives home the idea that life is not a carefully wrapped package tied with a bow. Life was– and still is– difficult, tragic, and filled with obstacles. But even still, life goes on. There will always be a tomorrow and a next day and a day after that. We might not be here to see it, but it will be there all the same. This is one of the many messages I took away from the narrative, and I believe there is no better way to convey it than through this novel’s conclusion.

In general, Gone with the Wind contains several important themes. The five that struck me the most are:

  • War: This is arguably the most obvious theme, considering the time and setting of the story. Very few people manage to avoid being swept up by the infectious war fervor plaguing the South. Two of these clear minds are Scarlett and Rhett, who are able to see the beloved “Cause” for what it really is: a method through which to essentially brainwash people into supporting the war effort. Mitchell views the war through several different lenses, including political, economic, and social perspectives.
  • Love: Nearly all of the characters struggle with some sort of problem related to love, whether it be involving courtship, marriage, or simply dealing with confusing emotions. Through Scarlett’s many marriages we see that marriage and love are two very distinct things and do not necessarily go hand in hand.
  • Loss: Loss is a pervasive, overwhelmingly prevalent theme in this novel, which I wasn’t really expecting when I first started reading it. I think it’s safe to say that every character faces loss and grief at some point throughout the story, largely due to the war and its tumultuous aftermath. Even Rhett, who seems to have easily accepted and adjusted to the harsh realities of the new South, eventually breaks down under a crushing wave of grief. Loss impacts everyone differently, which is apparent in the different responses of the characters.
  • Class: Even amidst the chaos of the Civil War and Reconstruction, there is a constant underlying consciousness of one’s class. Mitchell highlights the absurdity of such an obsession with social status and appearances during this time with an almost humorous, mocking tone. Rhett is a symbol of everything that Scarlett wishes to possess– money, glamour, luxury– but at what cost is she willing to attain it? By the end of the story, it’s clear that achieving a coveted spot in the upper class does not necessarily equate to a happy ending.
  • Gender: Southern society places significant importance on gender roles. There are different expectations of men and women from the time they begin courting to well into their married years– until their deaths, really. Even old widowed women must abide by certain customs, wearing black mourning clothes for years and exuding a somberness free from any hint of joviality. Scarlett refuses to conform to these societal norms, instead causing quite a ruckus with her masculine behavior. Mitchell’s obvious critiques of stereotypical gender roles leads me to call Gone with the Wind a feminist novel. (I will likely write an entire post about this at some point, so more on that later!)

So, what is the overall message of this long, winding review? While it certainly was not what I was expecting, Gone with the Wind is a brilliant novel written by a masterful writer. Margaret Mitchell managed to captivate me with her story, make me think with her critiques of society, and evoke a multitude of emotions with the powerful voices of her characters. It’s easy to see why this classic has remained popular and relevant over many decades, marking it as a truly timeless story. My only regret is that I did not read it sooner!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! Especially to someone interested in this time period in American history.

What are your thoughts on Gone with the Wind? Is there a film, adaptation, or any further reading that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

P.S. Read my thoughts on each individual part of this novel here:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5