EMMA by Jane Austen | Review

Last year I saw the movie Clueless, a comedy based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma, for the first time. My immediate reaction was: I need to read this book.

Set in Austen’s Victorian England, this novel follows Emma as she attempts to set her new friend Harriet up with a suitable man to marry. Caught up in the strict social conventions of the time, Emma goes through all the hoops necessary in order to make the perfect match… or so she believes. As each potential match flickers out before her eyes, she comes to realize that perhaps she’s been looking the wrong place all along.

It’s clear that Emma has the potential to possess all of the qualities that Austenites admire Jane’s books for having: humor, wit, charm, and a swoon-worthy romance. Unfortunately, I feel as though this novel misses the mark on these characteristics. Had the story been written with a slightly more agreeable protagonist, romantic interest, or ending, it would have made for a much more pleasurable read.

I guess my main problem with this novel is that I just couldn’t get past Emma’s annoying, oblivious, uppity personality. I’m sure this is the point of her character—we’re probably not supposed to like her—but where’s the enjoyment in that? Annoying protagonists are one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when there isn’t much going on besides their inner thoughts. Emma does undergo some character development towards the end of the story and begins to acknowledge that perhaps social classes aren’t as important in marriages as she once believed; however, this slight change was not enough to justify putting the reader through hundreds of pages to get to that point. I know this is a personal preference and is therefore really subjective, but my inability to relate with Emma ended up being a huge reason why this novel didn’t really click with me.

Harriet, on the other hand, was a character I connected with quickly and easily; it’s a shame that she doesn’t play a greater role overall. I’ve also been the girl who looks to others for relationship advice, the girl who feels heartbroken and a bit manipulated by others as they play their own twisted games. I think we can all relate with Harriet in some sense or at the very least feel sympathy for her as she is lead astray by Emma time and time and time again. Poor Harriet!

Overall, I have very mixed feelings about Emma. While I understand the point Austen is trying to make (social classes shouldn’t matter in marriages, the social conventions of the time period were ridiculous, etc.), I couldn’t get past Emma’s irritating, know-it-all personality. There were certainly moments when I laughed and admired Austen’s wit and charm, but it’s safe to say that this definitely isn’t my favorite Austen novel.

What are your thoughts on Emma? Which Jane Austen novel is your favorite? Which one should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING by Bill Bryson | Review

One of my goals this summer is to learn as much as possible about British culture as well as specific locations I should make a point to visit while I’m studying abroad in England. My wonderful boss must know how to read minds because on my first day of work she gave me a copy of Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling. In this sequel to his 1995 book Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson travels across England and recounts his adventures and observations in each delightfully British location. As a citizen of both the United States and England, Bryson offers an interesting perspective on the similarities and differences between these two nations.

I admire Bryson’s important overall message that we should strive to preserve and appreciate the little things that make Britain so great (according to Bryson, these details include independent shops, beautiful countryside, updated and educational museums, lively seaside communities, etc.). However, the message could have been delivered in a much more positive way. Instead of complaining about all of the disappointing things he came across, he could have celebrated and highlighted the wonderful aspects of the locations he visited. The majority of the book is written with a negative tone (though thankfully this is not true for the chapter on Oxford!) and after a while I wanted to sit Bryson down and ask: “Don’t you have anything positive to say?” I find it hard to believe that someone could be so cynical about being able to travel to all of those interesting places. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting Bryson’s sense of humor here– or maybe I just don’t find him funny.

Not only did I not love Bryson’s sense of humor, but I found a lot of his observations to be rather redundant. It only takes a few chapters to notice a definite pattern in their structure: each chapter begins with a short anecdote followed by a transition into talking about the location at hand. He then talks about the lack of independent shops there, the expensive prices of food and admission to tourist attractions, and how he always had “one pint of beer too many” before heading off to bed at night, only to repeat the entire process in the next location. Eventually I began to wonder what the point of writing a nearly 400-page long book was if he was simply going to restate the same ideas in different words ad nauseam until the reader started to agree with what he was saying. I feel as though this book probably could have been condensed to half its current size.

Overall, I enjoyed this book for practical purposes but not necessarily for its entertainment value. Not only did I learn a lot about British culture from an American’s perspective, but I also now have a very general understanding of the geography of England. It has helped me create an exciting list of museums, towns, shops, and beautiful countryside that I would love to visit while studying abroad. Unfortunately, Bryson’s sense of humor and writing style did not click with me at all. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I read The Road to Little Dribbling because the background information it provides will undoubtedly be helpful as I learn more about England in the future.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, if they were planning to visit England or were very interested in learning more about the nation in general.

What are your thoughts on this book? Are there any books you would recommend for someone studying abroad in England soon? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare | Review

If you’ve stuck around this blog for a while then you may be familiar with the love-hate relationship I share with William Shakespeare. The Bard and I have never really clicked, mostly because a) I’m easily frustrated by his use of tricky English puns and b) I’m easily annoyed by the melodramatic nature of many of his works. (Although I suppose that the melodrama is sort of the point, to a certain extent, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Despite our rocky past, I’ve felt myself sort of coming around to Shakespeare lately.

Case in point: I actually enjoyed Julius Caesar.

*gasp* What?! Did I just admit to actually liking a Shakespeare play?

Yes. And here’s why:

+ The plot is cut and dry. Unlike some of Shakespeare’s other plays (I’m looking at you Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet), I was able to grasp the main gist of Julius Caesar pretty quickly and easily. There’s plenty of political intrigue and the events unfold quickly, clearly, and– dare I say– logically?! Usually I find Shakespeare’s plots to be lacking any semblance of logic or reason, but this play was almost realistic in this way. (It’s certainly not hard to imagine in today’s tumultuous, frenzied political climate.)The ending does possess the usual drama that his conclusions tend to exude, though I guess that’s to be expected from a tragedy.

+ Questions about honor, loyalty, and duty. I loved the major themes in this play because I think they’re so relevant to the current state of our world (as shown by this New York Times article about a recent controversial production of Julius Caesar). Should we be loyal to our government or personal relationships with others first and foremost? At what point does duty overrule loyalty or vice versa? Should honor or duty preside over common sense or morality? These are the kinds of questions that fascinate me and that really made this play stand out in particular to me.

+ Historical basis. One can probably guess from the title that this play centers around Julius Caesar, who was an actual Roman emperor. The fact that this play is based on actual historical events (with extra melodrama thrown in for good measure) makes me wonder what people thought about this at the time. Did they appreciate this play for its commentary on history or value it for its ability to entertain and captivate an audience?

+ I finally understand where the title of John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars comes from. At one point I knew that this was the Shakespeare play Green was referencing, but I had since forgotten that tidbit of info until I stumbled across the famous line:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

I love exploring intertextuality and I’m actually sort of tempted to reread The Fault in Our Stars at some point to see if there are any underlying connections between the novel and the play.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Julius Caesar. Of course, I must admit that this measure of enjoyment is relative– that is, I enjoyed it considerably more than other Shakespeare plays I’ve read in the past but considerably less than other texts that are not Shakespeare plays. (I just have this unintentional apathy towards the Bard, okay?)

You win this round, Shakespeare.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: If someone asks me for a Shakespeare recommendation I would probably tell them to read this play; however, if someone asks me for a drama recommendation in general than I would definitely go with something like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town or Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

What are your thoughts on Julius Caesar? What Shakespeare play should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster | Review

“My father says that there is only one perfect view — the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.”

I decided to read E.M. Forster’s novel A Room with a View with no knowledge whatsoever of the story’s plot or context besides the brief description provided by the back cover. Of course, I had heard this title mentioned amidst the names of other “great” or classic British novels before, and the fact that it has been published as part of the Penguin English Library collection was enough to persuade me to give it a try. (Do I just love these gorgeous cover designs or do I put that much trust in Penguin as a publisher? Answer: it’s a little of both, to be honest.)

Numerous aspects of this novel ensured that I was captivated by this story from the first page: the beautiful writing, the picturesque Italian setting, the charming tone of the narration, and even Lucy herself. As someone planning on studying abroad in the near future, the emphasis on travel also caught my attention early on. The differences between the English and the Italians that the characters continuously harped on made me wonder how I’ll be perceived in my travels. I found myself feeling more and more connected with Lucy as she was exposed to new ideas, cultures, and beliefs.

A Room with a View is basically an English major’s dream novel. As I was reading I couldn’t help but think how many interesting papers could be written about it. You could discuss the entire concept of a “room with a view” and what that means, the contrast between the liminal space of the woods as opposed to the confines of the domestic sphere, the hierarchy of social classes, the portrayal of women and their role in society, the differences between Italy and England– the list goes on and on! What fascinated me the most was definitely the idea of “rooms” in general, which the title obviously indicates is a significant aspect of the story. This concept jumps out at the reader in the very first chapter as Mr. Emerson says:

“I have a view, I have a view…This is my son…his name’s George. He has a view too.” 

It quickly becomes apparent that a “view” is something to be admired, desired, and cherished by Lucy. While Mr. Emerson is literally referring to the view of Italy from outside a hotel window, it can also be said that his “view” could signify his open and refreshing perspective on life. He and his son are not as close minded as many of the other characters in the story, suggesting that perhaps a “room with a view” is not as highly sought after by everyone as it first appears to be in the initial hotel scene. Then there is the question of what one chooses to see and acknowledge in the “view” itself; in other words, does one choose to hone in on art, money, social distinctions, etc.? What someone sees when looking out from their “room with a view” can suggest a lot about their priorities, values, and beliefs. This play on words is incredibly clever and adds an intriguing undercurrent to an already brilliant story.

I fully believed that this novel was going to receive a perfect five-out-of-five rating until I finally read the ending and felt my enthusiasm suddenly wane. I was greatly disappointed by the way that Lucy essentially goes from being brainwashed by pompous, conceited Cecil to following the perspective of George. Even though the latter is clearly more preferred than the former, I was still hoping that Lucy would have elected to take the more independent route. Given the context in which this novel is set– the more restricting and constraining culture of Edwardian England– perhaps it makes sense for Lucy to choose the lesser of two evils rather than venture off on her own into what could potentially be an unknown darkness. It hardly would have been socially acceptable for a young unmarried woman to choose such a path for her life– yet would taking a risk have been that detrimental to Forster as a writer? Would allowing Lucy to make that choice have really hurt his reputation or badly damaged the overall reception of the novel? These are questions to which I don’t have answers, though I suppose Forster had his reasons for making the plot decisions that he did.

Overall, I feel as though Forster’s A Room with a View is a novel that I will most definitely be returning to in the future.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!

What are your thoughts on this novel? Any recommendations for related books you think I would like? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

HOW TO RUIN EVERYTHING by George Watsky | Review

My brother has been a fan of Watsky’s music for years, but it wasn’t until recently when I met him at NerdCon that I really started listening to his music. It only took a few rhymes and rhythms to have me completely hooked on his words, listening to his music any chance I could get: while walking to class, doing laundry, getting ready in the morning, and even while (attempting) to do homework. Then one day, my brother said: “He wrote a book, you know.”

He wrote a book. Those four words led me to snag borrow my brother’s beloved copy of George Watsky’s How to Ruin Everything as soon as I got home for spring break. Devouring this collection of essays in just over twenty-four hours filled me with an even greater appreciation for this artist– not only of his work but of his determination, hard work, and positive outlook on life.

Of course, the English major in me was thrilled to discover that Watsky’s spoken word skills carry over into his ability to write prose that is casual, conversational, witty, and thought-provoking. His writing does everything that good writing should: it makes you feel as though you’re right there beside him, reliving his experiences through a kaleidoscope of his and your perspectives. The narration is engaging, funny, and has a strong sense of personality that comes off as undoubtedly genuine. One of my favorite lines of this book appears in his essay titled “What Year Is It?” in which he talks about his experiences with epilepsy. The last line of the essay reads:

“I catch my reflection in the water, pieces of me plagiarized from the past—Dad’s nose, Mom’s chin, her dad’s hair, his sister’s brain—and look up to admire the scenery, while I can.”

Plagiarized from the past. That’s brilliant.

This essay in particular is just one example of the personal stories that Watsky includes in this collection. There’s a juxtaposition between his touching childhood memories and hilarious awkward experiences that somehow just works. From stories of travel and relationships to discussions of being a vegetarian, performing slam poetry at college campuses, and even an entire essay about his old tour vehicle, Watsky incorporates more topics and tales than I thought possible in such a slim volume. All of the personal information he shares contributes to an overwhelming feeling of authenticity in this text, the sense that he is confiding in the reader as though he or she were an old friend. It’s honest and endearing and makes for a book that is impossible to put down. 

Though all of the essays are remarkably different, they’re nevertheless tied together through a common thread: failure. Yes, Watsky has succeeded in writing a hilarious, entertaining, and surprisingly optimistic book about… well, not succeeding. (Ironic, no?) Time and time again he recounts experiences that didn’t go quite as planned or that took a sudden turn for the worse, yet there’s an underlying tone of optimism that runs like a current beneath the surface of his writing. It’s difficult to choose a favorite essay out of the entire collection, but the one that sticks out the most in my mind is the very first one, titled “Tusk.” In this essay, Watsky tells the story of when he and some friends smuggled a narwhal tusk over the Canadian border into the United States as a gift for a one hundred year old woman. If that’s not a conversation starter, then I don’t know what is!

Overall, reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! I would recommend to any of my friends, regardless of whether or not they have listened to Watsky’s music.

Are you a fan of Watsky’s music or writing? What are your thoughts on this book? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

MILK AND HONEY by Rupi Kaur | Review

In the style of Rupi Kaur herself, I’ll do my best to make my review of Milk and Honey simple, short, and direct. Here are five reasons why this poetry collection is remarkable:

  • PERSONAL, YET RELATABLE. It’s clear that many of these poems contain specific details from past relationships and personal experiences; however, she discusses topics and feelings that nearly everyone can connect to on some level. I was taken aback by how much I could relate with some poems because she discusses feelings and thoughts that we don’t often share with others, let alone put down on paper to be read by unfamiliar eyes.
  • RELEVANCE. The themes explored in this collection are incredibly important for everyone to be learning more about and discussing in their everyday lives. From self-worth and identity to race and feminism, these topics are ones that deserve ample time in the limelight.
  • SIMPLICITY. Many of the poems in this collection are only a handful of lines long, yet the language used is so carefully chosen that it carries a strikingly powerful weight. I made note of numerous poems that resonated with me as I read this collection for the first time, but the one poem I keep going back to contains only two lines:

    “i am a museum full of art
    but you had your eyes shut”

  • RAW EMOTION. You can feel the emotion seeping off of the pages into your hands as you read Rupi’s words. There is no question that this poetry is transcribed directly from the heart.
  • DESIGN. I’d be amiss if I didn’t at least briefly mention the gorgeous design of this book. I love everything about it: the black and white coloring, sketches sprinkled throughout the pages, and the way it seems to embrace empty space around text.

I bought a copy of Milk and Honey on a whim because I had heard a lot of great things about it. What I didn’t realize was that Rupi’s words would resonate so deeply with me and linger on in my mind long after I had read them. These poems are for anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve read or enjoyed poetry in the past. Rupi Kaur has written poetry for human nature.

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!!

Have you read Milk and Honey? What are your thoughts on it? Have any poetry recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley | Review

12974171-2Some stories seem to extend beyond the confines of their original forms. Whether it be from popular adaptations or its reputation over time, certain novels have been distorted in the eyes of those who have yet to read them. Put simply, this is a clash between expectations and reality, between what the reader perceives the work to be and what it is in actuality. I experienced this disparity while reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula a few years ago and more recently while reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Thanks to the popularized image of Frankenstein’s monster as a gigantic, green, bumbling figure, I was not prepared for the complex, humanlike being that Frankenstein actually created. He is no lumbering monster; rather, he is an intelligent, curious, agile, and morally ambiguous figure capable of learning human speech and adopting many civilized customs. It’s after he is spurned by society and those he views as potential friends that he becomes vengeful, violent, and conniving. Discovering that Shelley’s monster was much more complex and multifaceted than the creature often portrayed in modern media was honestly a relief. The monster’s ambiguity not only makes for a more interesting story, but it also presents the reader with a difficult moral dilemma: Is the monster truly evil? Can his actions be justified in light of his suffering at the hands of his creator? How does he compare to Frankenstein, the man who brought such a formidable being to life? These questions cannot be easily answered, yet we often ask ourselves similar things today. Such gray areas frequently pop up in our daily lives in the forms of relationships, court trials, and certainly when reading literature. No one is absolutely good or evil– not even the “monster” of Frankenstein.

I was also not expecting Frankenstein to have such a layered narrative style. There are numerous narrators in this slim book: Walton, the sailor writing letters back home; Frankenstein telling his story to Walton, who then copies it down; and the monster himself, recounting his struggles to his creator in an attempt at persuasion. At first these layers made me feel disconnected from the story, but I loved the way they cleverly connected and unfolded from one another at the end. Though I initially struggled to see the value in this complicated narrative structure, I now believe that this novel would not have been as effectively delivered through any other form. The many layers and perspectives add to the ambiguity and mystery that the novel exudes.

More than anything, I left this novel with an overwhelming sensation of pity towards Frankenstein. Despite the fact that the monster was his own creation, he took very little responsibility for his actions. He did try to prevent the death of innocent Justine, but his efforts were ultimately futile. He refused to tell his family about the monster for fear that they would think him mad (Well, perhaps that perception would be rightly justified!). While I feel sorry about the deaths of many of his loved ones, I believe that Frankenstein could have done much more to prevent these tragedies from occurring.

Overall, Mary Shelley has left me feeling both confused and fascinated by her classic novel Frankenstein. It was much different from my initial expectations, but in ways that made me enjoy this story even more. There is something in this depths of this dark, twisted tale that lingers in the mind long after the final page has been turned; perhaps this is why it has remained on our bookshelves for centuries.

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! Not only is it a fantastic novel in general, but I think a lot of people would be interested to see how their expectations of the story differ from what it is in actuality. Besides, who doesn’t love a story that will make your heart raise and send shivers down your spine?

What are your thoughts on Frankenstein? Have you experienced this clash between expectations and reality when it comes to literature? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

THE TRUTH ABOUT STYLE by Stacy London | Review

13588439Stacy London has been an inspirational figure in my life for years. Back when she and Clinton Kelly starred in their TLC television show What Not to Wear, I was enthralled by her seemingly innate ability to empower others. No matter an individual’s problems with self-esteem or self-confidence, Stacy seemed to always know exactly what to say to help them stand a bit taller and smile a bit brighter. I looked forward to watching her help people improve their lives each day at lunchtime. In my eyes, her work was about far more than simply choosing the right clothing off of the rack; rather, she made it her job to help people realize their great potential, both in terms of style and personal worth.

The Truth About Style is expertly infused with this same blend of style advice and inspirational empowerment. Though the bulk of the book focuses on the style challenges of various women, it’s more about lifestyle than fashion. As Stacy says in the first few pages:

“…my book doesn’t only deal with how to dress well, and why you should, but it examines why you don’t. We all put obstacles in our own path toward personal style, myself included. If we understood why we constructed these practical and emotional obstacles, we might move beyond them to healthier, happier perceptions of ourselves and, ideally, a better sense of self-esteem.” 

As much as this book is about self-acceptance and boosting one’s self-confidence, it also addresses the importance of recognizing and understanding the reasons why doing so is often difficult for us. Stacy shines a light on numerous taboos topics, from eating disorders and illness to fearing old age and living as a single woman in a society preoccupied with romantic relationships. We all have obstacles that may prevent us from reaching our personal best if we let them. Stacy’s argument is simple: We don’t have to let them. 

What makes this book so effective? For me, it is undoubtedly the incorporation of Stacy’s own personal experiences throughout the entire book. Her path to where she is today is inspirational in and of itself and I can’t help but marvel at the adversity that she has overcome. One would likely never guess that this successful woman has struggled with psoriasis, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. When she gives advice to women about body image or accepting their own scars, it is therefore obvious that Stacy is speaking from the heart based on her personal experiences. Stacy’s personality and voice is woven into every thread of this book. It almost feels as though she is speaking directly to the reader, making me laugh with her quirky, goofy humor and lean in closer to say in her whispered wisdom.

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In this way, The Truth About Style is exactly the book I hoped it would be. As soon as I opened the first page I was instantly transported back to the days of watching her on What Not to Wear, wishing that I could somehow carry around a mini Stacy London on my shoulder in times of trouble. Perhaps that’s what this book is for me: a dose of empowerment that I can interpret and make my own.

Is this a book about a style? Yes. Is it a sort of memoir? Yes. But I think it’s meant to be as much about the reader as it is Stacy herself. As Stacy writes in her book:

“Style can change your look, certainly, but it can also change your life.”

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: OF COURSE!!

Have you ever read this book before? Are you a fan of What Not to Wear? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL (Vol. 1-3) by Ryan North & Erica Henderson | Review

23732096-2I have an announcement to make, friends.

I am officially a comic book reader.

I had never even opened a comic book before recently. I suppose I gave into the stigma surrounding them, that they’re not real books and that I wouldn’t enjoy them as much as I do novels.

Well, color me corrected.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series by Ryan North and Erica Henderson has converted me into a lover of comic books. With its fun, quirky humor and amazing understanding of what it feels like to be a modern-day college student, this series is a must-read for any Marvel fan.

+ Doreen Green (AKA Squirrel Girl). Meet Doreen Green, your average college student with super squirrel powers. She is the embodiment of positive body image, self-confidence, and compassion, making this series an incredibly uplifting one to read. She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, yet she’s also not afraid to ask for help in doing so. With her best squirrel-friend Tippy Toe, there’s nothing that Squirrel Girl can’t do! Squirrel Girl is the positive role model that we’ve all been searching for, complete  the with inspirational positivity and encouraging optimism that we could all use more of in our lives.

25066772+ Nancy!!! Though there are so many great characters to choose from, Nancy is by far my favorite character in this series. She is Doreen’s roommate, best friend, and logical, practical rock of support. She might be the only one without super powers, but that doesn’t mean that she is resigned to waiting in the background. Nancy is always in the center of the action, helping Squirrel Girl get out of trouble with her own mix of intellect, cleverness, and wit. Not only does she accurately capture what it’s like to be an average college student trying to find their way through life, but she does so with a form of dry, sarcasm humor that never fails to make me laugh. Three cheers for Nancy, the real MVP!

+ The artwork. Erica Henderson is queen. The artwork in this series is dynamic, vibrant, colorful, and captivating. Though some readers have criticized it for being too “cartoon-like,” I adore this adorable style of artwork. It lends itself really well to the overall vibe of the story and the fact that it’s a modern comic book series for a new generation of readers.

27163016+ The thoughtful and hilariously clever writing. Ryan North does an amazing job of incorporating relevant, serious topics and humor into his writing. There is an overwhelming sense of “girl power” in this series, as I’m sure the creators are aware of the progressive strides they are making towards making a powerful female super hero who is not the objectified figure of femininity we’re unfortunately used to seeing. Squirrel Girl is smart, funny, independent, and strong, embodying the traits that every female character should posses.

Also, I love how witty the writing itself is, from the impressive use of alliteration at every corner to the hilarious bits of commentary hidden in tiny font at the bottom of every page (definitely take the time to read them!). The dialogue feels authentic, the narration is seamlessly interwoven with the rest of the story, and the language is the perfect balance between genuine and over-the-top cheesy in the best way possible. His writing has given me a greater appreciation for the immense talent it takes to write a brilliant comic book.

Overall, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of comic books. Whether you’re a die-hard Marvel fan or just getting into super heroes in general, this series is truly a necessary addition to anyone’s growing TBR list. I’m excited to see where this progressive series takes us in future volumes!

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!! A friend recommended it to me, so it’s only right that I pass the recommendation on to others.

Have you read these comic books before? What are your favorite comic book series? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner | Review

Weeks have passed since I finished reading William’s Faulkner’s classic novel As I Lay Dying, yet I’m still taken aback by its brilliance.

My first experience reading Faulkner was with The Sound and the Fury, which was required reading for a literature class I took two semesters ago. Although I did enjoy it, the stream of consciousness writing style and the multiple perspectives proved difficult to fully understand. However, these same characteristic aspects of Faulkner’s work form a much more accessible story in As I Lay Dying. It still challenges the reader to put the pieces of his plot puzzle together, but the rewarding ending makes all of the effort worthwhile.

FullSizeRender-1Faulkner’s more experimental writing style is a key part of the effectiveness of this novel. He focuses primarily on inner thoughts and monologues, which is why streams of consciousness appear frequently in this work. Nearly every character acts as a narrator at one point or another, meaning that a chorus of personal thoughts, stories, and perspectives are gradually revealed to the reader. Though the members of the Bundren family can be considered the “main characters,” each voice telling the story has an opportunity to stand under the spotlight. Moreover, each character has a distinct voice unlike any other, so much so that I could probably identify the narrators without their names at the beginning of each chapter. Darl’s voice is more intellectual and educated, Vardaman’s is that of a young boy, Cora’s is intensely religious, Anse’s exudes a desperate tone, etc. Not only do these distinct voices help the reader distinguish between the characters, but they also make the narration feel more authentic and they provide a plethora of different perspectives of this single stay.

What at first seems like a simple tale of burying the deceased Addie Burden soon turns into an account of Bundren family dynamics and life in the South in the early twentieth century. Set in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, As I Lay Dying addresses a multitude of topics ranging from poverty and religion to family and gender. Each character struggles with his or her own issues, which then intertwine with and contribute to the overarching plot at hand. There are so many topics to discuss alongside this novel that I would be rambling for days if I tried to include them all!

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One of the most interesting and rather jarring issue face by an individual character is that of Dewey Dell, the only daughter in the Bundren family. When they stop in different towns she always sneaks into the local drugstore to inquire about how to get an abortion. These scenes are both sad and infuriating: sad because Dewey Dell is at a loss for words when it comes to describing her “condition,” and infuriating because the men she speaks with treat her like a foolish imbecile. Abortions and childbirth out of wedlock were clearly frowned upon back then, but it’s startling to recognize the resemblance this bares to our modern-day society. As much as we would like to think otherwise, these topics are still often considered “taboo” today. This similarity is one of the many reasons why As I Lay Dying remains a relevant, valuable piece of literature.

Out of the many remarkable elements this novel possesses, the one that has stayed with me the most is the very last line. As son as I read it I was struck by how deceiving human nature can be, even when you are supposedly reading people’s innermost thoughts. It made me realize that each of the characters has had their own motivations for embarking on a journey to bury Addie from the beginning. Believe it or not, my immediate reaction was a desire to turn back to the very first page and read the entire novel again. This is the sort of work that take on additional meaning at a second glance. Though I haven’t reread it yet, I am looking forward to doing so soon.

Overall, As I Lay Dying has officially converted me into a devoted Faulkner fan. His writing style is challenging but rewarding, and I’m fascinated by the southern setting of his work. This novel in particular has often been described as a “tour de force,” a title with which I wholeheartedly agree. I was not expecting to become so invested in this story, yet here I am still thinking about it months later.

Well played, Faulkner. Well played indeed.

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes! Although it can be confusing at times, so they would have to be in the mood for a more challenging read.

I could honestly talk about this novel at great length, so you’ll likely be seeing many more posts about it in the near future!

What are your thoughts on As I Lay Dying or on William Faulkner in general? Have any other Faulkner recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY