I actually listened to the audio version of this book by Kristin Hannah last summer, but apparently I forgot to write a review of it. I liked it so much that I nominated it for my book club to read and it got voted in, but when I went to look up my blog post to refresh my memory of the book before discussing it, I couldn’t find anything :OMORE +
One of my favorite podcasts, Bonnets at Dawn, decided to do a read-along of this classic by Elizabeth Gaskell and I was all excited for it, but it ended up being part of an emotional journey I just wasn’t ready for. To give you some context, the kindle edition I read is a mere 800 pages, so it was always going to take me a while to get through this, but then my mom got sick and died, so the book took me much longer to read than I had initially anticipated because I had to deal with that whole mess.
I started reading this book two days before Christmas, at which point my mom had not been feeling well for a few weeks and was quickly deteriorating, but we did not yet know exactly what was wrong, and because of the holidays, they couldn’t schedule any tests for her until after the new year, which led to a parallel between this book and my real life that I had not been expecting. Now, to discuss this book properly, there will be plenty of spoilers, so consider yourself warned.
SPOILER ALERT!!!MORE +
I decided to read this book by Madeline Miller, partly because everyone kept raving about Circe and I wanted to read this one before reading Circe (even though I know it’s not exactly a series and I could have skipped this one). I had also heard good things about The Song of Achilles, including from my mom, who listened to the audiobook, so I decided to listen to the audiobook, too. My library had a pretty long waiting list for this one, so I had no idea I would end up listening to this book while my mom was dying of cancer.
For those of you who don’t know, Achilles died in the war against Troy. Even if you hadn’t read The Iliad or seen any of the movies, that’s still not a spoiler because, fairly early on in the book, it’s revealed that there’s a prophecy that Achilles won’t survive the war if he goes to fight, but if he does go to fight, he’s promised all sorts of glory, and that’s really all any man in ancient Greece could ask for.
I checked out this audiobook by Susan Fraser King from my library on impulse and was oddly underwhelmed by it and I have no idea why. The writing is good and the narration by Wanda McCaddon is amazing. It’s about a strong woman in Medieval Scotland fighting for her place in a man’s world, with a little bit of magic thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love? This book should have been right up my alley, and yet I just found myself going “meh”. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it.
I think part of the problem is I was initially expecting something close to Shakespeare’s play, but that’s not at all what this is about. This is based on the true life of the woman who was the basis for Shakespeare’s famous femme fatale.
Her name is Lady Gruadh, but since the English priest can’t pronounce that (since this is around the same time Christianity is working its way into the British Isles) he calls her “Rue,” and she makes so much trouble that the name seems to suit her.
Our introduction to Gruadh is her counting how many times she’s been kidnapped as a young child. As the only daughter of a prince of Scotland and granddaughter of a king, she has royal blood from both sides of her family, making her a very valuable target to anyone who wants to use her connections to increase their own status and power. The book starts with a description of her latest kidnapping and rescue, followed by her insistence on learning how to wield a sword so she won’t have to rely on guards 24/7.
So she grows up and is married off to some guy whose name I can’t remember. They barely know each other when they get married, but they learn to like each other and he impregnates her, but is killed by Macbeth before the child is born. Macbeth then forces Gruadh to marry him, which she does most unwillingly, but she really doesn’t have a choice.MORE +
I read Lolita a few years ago and loved it, so I was intrigued when I heard about this book by Sarah Weinman covering the real-life kidnapping of a young girl a decade or so before Nabokov’s novel was published, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Weinman starts by talking about how often Nabokov’s book is so often misunderstood – many people mistake it for a star-crossed romance instead of a predator’s account of how he captured and imprisoned his prey. Weinman credits Nabokov’s writing talent with this common misconception, but as impressive as his writing is, I think that explanation fails to address how poorly our society handles sexism pedophilia in real life, much less in fiction. The infantalization of grown women and general preference for women who seem childlike, both in physical appearance, and in behavior, is a huge problem in this country and I think it’s a major contributor when considering why so many readers don’t see a problem with anything Humbert Humbert does … or says he does.
I read this book by Evan S. Connell for my book club last year. I didn’t vote for it because I had never heard of it, but I ended up really liking it and the guy who nominated it did not. Life’s funny.
Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor have done it again!
I started listening to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast so I could read the book, and when this one came out, I impatiently waited for my library to get the audiobook so I could listen to it. It took forever, but it was so worth it because these books on audio are amazing. If you enjoy the podcast, I highly recommend listening to these books on audio.
On the surface, this was just a light, fun read, but like Fink’s first book (and like the podcast can be at times) I think it had a deeper meaning that’s worth exploring (and fun to explore in Nightvale). The main character, Nilanjala Sikdar, is a scientist working in Night Vale who relies on facts and logic and the idea that there is a scientific explanation for everything. But she starts to question that worldview when she starts dating Darryl, an acolyte of The Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God.
My mom picked up this book by Marie-Helene Bertino when we were on vacation a few years ago. I thought it sounded interesting, so I stole it and it sat on my book shelf for a few years before I finally got around to reading it this past Christmas. I’m glad I managed to return it to my mom before she died, but, unfortunately, not before she got a chance to read it. By that point her concentration was on the way out and she was having a hard time reading much of anything, and she hadn’t gotten around to finishing any of the books she had started over the past several months.
I snagged this one largely because of the title, which I thought made it sound like a book set in the 1920s, but I was mistaken. It takes place around the time it was written – in the early 2000s – and I had heard it was a modern retelling of the princesses who sneak off to go dancing in a magical land all night long every night, but I’m not so sure. I think it’s quite a stretch to connect this plot to that fairy tale.
I loved Stieg Larsson’s books, but I was afraid another writer wouldn’t be able to do justice to the original series. I’m sad to report I was right.
I was really looking forward to this book by Melanie Benjamin because I thought it sounded like an interesting concept, but it was such a disappointment. It’s not very well written and the narrator doesn’t do a great job on the audiobook. Both the writing and the narrating are OK, just not great.
The concept is fascinating, but even I got sick of the male bashing. Don’t get me wrong, the injustices these women faced (and that women in Hollywood continue to face) make my blood boil, but the narrator insisted on emphasizing the word “men” with such disgust every single time it was written that it really got on my nerves. And when I’m the one telling you there’s too much man-bashing in your book, you know you really have a problem – because I never say that. Ever.MORE +