Friday, May 26, 2017

Top Ten Characters I Can't Even

This post is inspired by my previous post (found here), and I have had a lot of fun writing it. I think we can all think, off the top of our heads, of at least 3 characters that immediately set our blood boiling and/or we wish would fall into a wormhole, never to be seen again. I am slightly disturbed by the glee I take in hating these characters. This is a post that I really, really want y'all to respond to; I'm dying to know who y'all loathe with your entire being.

I Can't Even With...

1. Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. I do not like this book, and 90% of the reason why is freakin' Daisy Buchanan. She is awful and blind to her awfulness. Sure, she is a product of her society, but come on. You can't even go to the funeral?




2. Rosamond Vincy from Middlemarch. This girl literally exists in a world of her own making and refuses to let reality alter her ideas of who people should be and how they should act. Her poor husband views her as a special snowflake of a burden to endure by the end of the novel. I was choking on indignation (literally- I had to stop eating my cookie) at her reaction to needing to cut back on her spending.

3. Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights. I wish she would have made up her mind who she wanted, rather than pitting two men against each other. I realize she is not wholly at fault, but once she was married she was so unfair to Heathcliff. She is the definition of weak willed.

4. Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. This guy was closemouthed, overbearing, selfish, irrational, condescending, and a coward. He could not see things from anyone else's perspective and was unwilling to change.


5. Oonagh from the Sevenwaters series. This woman is cruel and selfish. There is nothing redeemable about her. She does not love anyone- other than herself. She puts character after character through gut-wrenching trials and just does not care. (Caveat- I am glad that Marillier keeps her as a villain and not as a conflicted character. I like a good villain that is truly evil.)

6. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. I know I will get a lot of crap from this one, but seriously. He is a grown man who takes out his grievances on a boy who has no idea of the history between Snape and James. Why not try and befriend him for Lily's sake? It seems to me that his love for Lily was trumped by his hatred of James (except at the end).

7. Lissla Lissar's Father from Deerskin. I do not think I have to explain this one at all. He breaks several foundational bonds- emotional, relational, physical, spiritual- and is repulsive.

8. Bob Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird. The man is a drunk. He beats his children. He has entitlement issues fueled by willful ignorance. He knowingly wrongfully accuses a black man of crime he and his daughter committed. He. Is. Repulsive.

9. Achilles from The Iliad. He is a whiny baby. For being the greatest warrior of the Trojan War, he sure is a diva. When he doesn't get his way? Watch out. He is going to throw a temper tantrum until he gets what he wants. Then, in The Odyssey, he has gotten what he wants but is unsatisfied.



10. Bella Swan from the Twilight series and Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy. I could not decide between these two, so I chose both. For one, freakin' love triangles. I hate them. Literally. Thoroughly. Completely. Bella's single-minded determination to hang on to Edward (while using Jacob as an emotional crutch) is creepy and selfish. Katniss's wanting to bury her head in the sand is selfish and impossible.

Man. This post was kind of cathartic. It was nice to get some of my frustration out. Please, let me know y'all's can't even characters. I really want to know!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reading Goals Update

I (Jenny) thought it would be a good idea to do an update on the books I've been reading rather than a half way update. I don't know about y'all, but if I do not write about a book fairly soon after I read it, I will forget a lot. Even books that made strong impressions are hard to talk about if I wait too long. It starts sounding like, "It was so good! I loved... everything. The characters were awesome." Details, anyone?

If you are not familiar with my reading goal for this year, you can read about it here. I have 30 books I want to read this year. I think I am doing pretty well so far. Some I have loved, and some I am glad I do not have to pick them up ever again. I am trying to decide which ones to bring on vacation; I am always a much more inspired reader at the beach. Probably because the setting is my idea of perfection.




— Nonfiction —

1. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert — This book is one of my new favorites. It is about an English professor's journey to knowing Christ. It is well written AND thoughtful. Her logical working out of a) what being a believer means and b) what being a believer will cost is particularly searing in its honesty. I wish everyone who has had any contact with any type of faith whatsoever would read it. Its mirror-like properties are unavoidable; it challenges as it encourages.

2. The Land of the Green Man — This book was incredibly entertaining. Even though it is nonfiction, the content most often reads like a story. Larrington does an excellent job of describing the British Isles (almost too excellent — I am ready to pack my bags right now). She basically sets down the majority of folk tales floating around the British Isles. It makes me wish I lived in a place with such a long history.

3. Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church — I. loved. this. book. It is a presentation of two ways of thinking theologically and practically about homosexuality. 4 scholars wrote 4 short essays defending two views of the issue. The scholars were highly intelligent and, more importantly, compassionate. This is a book I am still wrestling with (in a good way). My only complaint was that there was not a recommended reading list. I think a list would have been a really great- and helpful- addition.

4. Four Views on Hell — This book was not near as good as the one on homosexuality, in my opinion. The scholars were much more antagonistic and the writing harder to follow. I do not regret reading it and I did learn things, but I probably will not read it again.


— Classics —

1. Middlemarch — George Eliot is one of the most astute writers I have ever read when it comes to understanding human beings. The whole book is about a small town in England with, quite frankly, not the most interesting characters or plot. Her insights into human nature, however, kept me coming back for more. (Side note: Rosamond Vincy has joined Daisy Buchanan on my Can't Even list)


— Fiction —

1. The Enchantress of Florence — I was really enjoying this book until about 3/4 of the way through. I cannot tell you my feelings on it with spoiling things, so just know I was extremely disappointed by the way everything happened and I feel that all of Rushdie's lovely, insightful thoughts got washed away in the yuck of the ending.

2. Silence Fallen — This is number 10 in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. It is one of my favorite series and this entry did not disappoint. It was somewhat hard to follow because of how the story is told, but I did enjoy it. I really liked how Briggs expanded the world with a glimpse into Europe. 

3. Shylock Is My Name — This is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. This is one of the most thought-provoking fiction books I have read in a long time. Jacobson wrestles with Shylock's Jewishness and its implications for Shakespeare's audience as well as the modern audience.  This is one of those books that I do not know whether or not to recommend it; it should be read, but not everyone would enjoy reading it. Conundrum. 

4. The Burning Page — I reviewed this book in a different post; check it out here.

5. A Court of Wings and Ruin — I was so disappointed by this book. It is the third in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and it was... dare I say it... kind of boring. The second book (A Court of Mist and Fury) was really good, YA at its finest good. The third one was definitely a let down. The main characters were kind of flat, there were some plot holes, and one deus ex machina moment was too much for me. If the second book hadn't been SO good, then the third would not have been as much of a let down.


Wow, looks like I need to do some work on the Classics category. I have picked up the Iliad and am about a quarter of the way in. It is more different from The Odyssey than I thought it would be. So far I am really enjoying this challenge I have set for myself. Hopefully I make much more progress this summer. How are y'all's reading challenges going? 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Series Spotlight: The Invisible Library

I (Jenny) discovered a hidden gem of a series this past November, thanks to the daily bombardment of Amazon kindle e-mails I receive. The name instantly caught my attention - The Invisible Library. Promising start. Couple the title with a lovely cover and an intriguing blurb, and I thought it was definitely worth $1.99 (and let's be honest, a book has to be really terrible for me to regret $1.99). I read it in two days and immediately bought the second. As soon as I finished the second, I preordered the third. This is a series of books about books... or rather, books about bookish things. What is not to love?

Some background information to begin. The main character, or protagonist in bookspeak, is a woman named Irene. She is a Librarian who works for... the Library. Her job is to retrieve books for the Library. This is where it gets interesting. Come to find out, there are tons upon tons of different worlds and the Library has doors to many of them. The Library itself is out of time —if you live there you do not age— but houses an untold number of books from various worlds. If a book is rare, dangerous, mysterious, or unique the Library needs the book for itself. That is where Irene comes in. She is one of an untold number of Librarians who retrieve books from different worlds. Some of the worlds are high chaos, some are high order, but more about those things later. Librarians have a superpower —they can command things in their secret Library language— and the work is often very dangerous. Books + Danger + Witty and Emotionally-Stable Heroine = WIN


                                   



1. The Invisible Library. The first book hits the ground running and does not slow down. The book opens with Irene out on assignment to retrieve a book from an alternate universe. She succeeds, is assigned a mysterious assistant named Kai, and is then sent out to her next mission. Irene and Kai are sent to a chaos-infested world, meaning that the fae and other supernatural creatures can live there — the more chaos, the more ability to work magic. Irene must find the book she is sent for while not blowing her cover. Too bad she runs into that world's version of Sherlock Holmes...
This book is so entertaining. If you love books and stories and story craft, you will love the many ways the author (Genevieve Cogman) plays with and incorporates them into the story. Irene is a down to earth, true to character protagonist. She is frighteningly efficient and her grammar is perfect. She is not an unfeeling robot or a Library patriot who cannot think for herself. She is simply a woman who does what needs to be done and values her friends.

2. The Masked City. The second installment finds Irene and Kai in a world similar to Venice during Carnival. Kai has been kidnapped by the fae and taken to a high world where the fae rule. This is bad on several levels, the main one being that Kai is a dragon prince and dragons are beings of order. Kai will not be able to function properly on a chaos-infested world, so Irene must act quickly to find him and rescue him. The only problem? The Library won't let her. Irene does not let this stop her. She gathers allies, makes bargains, and follows the clues to retrieve her assistant.
This book was not quite as fast paced, though the blurb makes it sound like it will be. It takes quite a lot to even get to Venice, and once there Irene has to do a lot of reconnaissance. It is interesting to see how a high chaos world functions and how the fae are bound to narratives. Very, very unique and creative characterization and world building in this one. The pacing is just a little slow. But still worth the read!

3. The Burning Page. The third book finds Irene and Kai recovering from the aftermath of the previous book. Irene is on probation after rescuing Kai without the Library's permission. This means they are getting the crap retrieval jobs. While on one of these jobs, the door to the Library they are trying to use goes up in flames, forcing them to find another door. Turns out, this is happening to Librarians across the worlds. To add insult to injury, someone is trying to kill Irene and her friend (remember the Sherlock character I mentioned?) is sick. Irene basically is trying to save everyone and everything. Good thing she is such a clever, capable, and determined lady.
I have to admit, this was my least favorite. I think because it is the middle book in the series (supposedly there will be 5) it is suffering from having to set up the rest of the series without itself being super interesting. Honestly, not a lot happens in this one. And that is okay. Sometimes you need to sacrifice one book for the greater good. And by sacrifice I only mean it cannot be as good so others can be great. That never means destroying a book.

I highly recommend this series. It is fun, engaging, and the main characters are wonderful. Irene is a no-nonsense, save myself heroine. The secondary characters are well developed and provide wonderful foils to each other and to Irene. There is a little romance, and I mean little, but it is very minor and is still developing. Maybe. Potentially. That is not the point. The point is the books. And this series. And how you should read it. Hope you will give it a try!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jenny: 30 Books in 2017

I (Jenny) do not know about y'all, but my To Be Read pile is borderline ridiculous. And when I say pile, I  mean an actual, physical pile of books. I cannot seem to figure out the reading:purchasing ratio. Honestly, I think it stems from the movie The Day After Tomorrow and all the books that are lost due to the new ice age. I feel compelled to buy books just in case they stop being available. And if a book has a beautiful cover? It is impossible for me to walk away from it.

All that being said, my focus this year is to knock out some of those books that have been in the pile for way too long. I have chosen 30 books that I have to read in 2017. The majority are books that I have owned for at least a year; some are books that were recent purchases and want to prioritize; the last are a few books that are new releases in series that I love and it would be silly to act like I might read another book ahead of them.

As you can see, I am being pretty ambitious. Some of these books I have started to read and then did not finish them. Rather than trying to read a certain number of books this year, I am hoping to read these certain books. Of course I will read more than these but these will be my focus. Wish me luck. I am going to need it! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Lesley Anne: 17 Books in 2017



I am so excited about today's post! As I mentioned in my last post, I read about half as much as I normally do in 2016, and I think that was partly due to becoming a new mom, and partly because I didn't have a plan in place. As an INFP, structure usually doesn't motivate me, and oftentimes it does the opposite. I'm also a big-time mood reader, so saying I'm going to read a specific book each month doesn't work either. But I knew if I didn't make some sort of plan for this year, I was going to flounder around and end up not reading as much as I would like again. So this year I'm aiming to read 17 books, and giving myself the flexibility to choose from the 25 books listed below. I divided everything up by genre so when a specific mood strikes, I know exactly where to go [and as you'll see under the fiction category, I've obviously declared this as the year of Sarah J. Maas ;) ]. Who knows exactly what this year will hold, but I'm excited to get started!   

Faith

1. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst
2. Grace Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy by Emily Ley
3. The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian

Home  

4. The Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally & Sarah Clarkson
5. The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley

Memoir/Biography 

6. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
7. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Family/Parenting

8. Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman
9. On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo
10. Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson
11. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp
12. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Fiction - Fantasy 

13. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany
14. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
15. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
16. The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
17. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
18. Crown  of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
19. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
20. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
21. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
22. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Misc

23. The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine Aron
24. The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
25. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What's on your reading list for this year?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What I Read in 2016

I (Lesley Anne) didn't read nearly as much as I normally do in 2016, and there's one tiny good reason for that. ;) It's been interesting to learn through the exhaustion of pregnancy and caring for a newborn just how much reading is still really important to me. While going through major life changes, words have become even more nourishing to my soul than ever. I've found that it helps a ton to make time for reading everyday, even if it's just a few pages (or a few paragraphs!) a day. And I want to continue that practice in to 2017. Tomorrow I'll be talking about the books on my reading list for this year, but today I'm taking a quick look back at the books I read in 2016! 

Non-Fiction


1. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst - This is a favorite of many women I know, but it didn't quite work for me. This was my first time listening to non-fiction on audio, and I think I would have had a much better experience reading this in print. I got a few positive takeaways and liked Lysa's tips on decision-making, but I was disappointed that overall this book had more fluff than substance.

2. Counter Culture by David Platt - We read this book together with our small group, and it was excellent. Definitely challenges your comfortable Christianity, and I especially liked the call to action and specific ways to pray at the end of each chapter.

3. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Judy Torgas - While I was pregnant, I researched and tried to learn as much as I could about breastfeeding, since I knew it was going to be overwhelming once Gabe was born. While I learned a good deal from this book, I honestly think I retained what I learned in our in-person class at the hospital more since I'm more of a visual learner. And like most baby books, I didn't agree 100% with everything said, so you have to take some things (such as the author's stance on circumcision, childbirth, etc.) with a grain of salt. This book is still a great resource, though, and I have it in a basket next to the rocker in Gabe's nursery for quick reference whenever a question comes up.   

Fiction


4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - This book finished out the last of Jane Austen's novels for me, and I'm so glad I've read them all now! Out of all the Austen novels, this was the one I was the least familiar with going in to the book. But Henry Tilney quickly became one of my all-time favorite characters--I adored his wit and charm. And I loved the satirical angle Austen took on the gothic section of the novel. Talking about this makes me even more excited about an Austen event I'm attending later this month (more on that later)!

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - This was one of our book club picks last year, and while I enjoyed the story itself, the meaning behind everything flat out annoyed me. This book is written in a short story format, and is a fable about finding your destiny--or your "personal legend," as Coelho puts it. The emphasis is placed on following your heart and how the whole universe will work together to help you find your purpose, and as a follower of Christ, that philosophy falls flat for me. One positive is that the audio version of this, read by Jeremy Irons, is excellent!

6. The One by Kiera Cass - This series is a total mess, but it's a mess that had me coming back for more nonetheless. I just had to know what happened between America and Maxon! The drama and the cheesiness were still to be found in plenty, but it was nothing I didn't expect. Such a fun, quick read!

7. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - This was the first book I read after having Gabe, and of course it was a Sarah Addison Allen novel. Her books are like comfort food to me, and this one was no exception. I loved getting to know the Waverley sisters I've heard so much about in her other novels! And I need Claire Waverley to cater a dinner party at my house pronto.

8. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen - This book was enchanting and had so many magical realism elements that I loved. Full of family secrets, love lost and found, delicious food, and a small southern town that I would move to in a heartbeat - this book just solidified why Sarah Addison Allen is on my all-time favorite authors list!

9. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - I just cannot tell y'all how much I love Sarah J. Maas and her books. She is the queen of world-building and of creating the most unique, dynamic characters. While this book was more character-driven than the first book, and at 640 pages probably could have used some editing, I loved it all the same. And y'all--THAT ENDING. Book 3 can't get here fast enough! (A word of warning though--this book has some very adult content that you might want to skip over).    

10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling - With the movie coming out, I knew I wanted to read the book behind it all first. My expectations were pretty low for this short read, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. The beginning definitely read like a textbook, but the notes from Harry and Ron and the references to muggles sprinkled throughout made me fall in love with the wizarding world all over again!   

What books did you read in 2016? I'd love to hear about some of your favorites! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving TBR List

Thank goodness Blogger autosaves my password. It has been so long since I have blogged that I was afraid Blogger would deny me access simply on principle. Though, honestly, I do not know how I am supposed to follow Lesley Anne's incredibly poignant and perfectly beautiful post about sweet baby Gabe's birth. (If you missed it, read it here. It will make 2016 seem a little less hopeless.)

Here is a gratuitous picture of Gabe to make your heart melt.


Okay, moving on. There has been a significant change in my own life as well but this is not the post for that. We are the Pathological Readers, after all. We want books! Life stories are all well and good, but what about the books?

Glad you asked. Here are the books that are going to keep me company next week when I AM OFF FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK.


Jenny's Thanksgiving TBR List (in no particular order)


1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. A friend recommended this book about a month ago, and since then, I kid you not, no less than 4 other people have mentioned it. The universe is telling me to read it.

2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This is our book club read for November. If anyone has a copy they would let me borrow I would really, really appreciate it!

3. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine. Lauren got me the first book in this series for my birthday and I devoured it. I immediately ordered the second one and am trying to exercise self-control and not read it until I am free.

4. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. Technically I have already started this one but I am only able to read a chapter here and there. I want to be able to dedicate serious time to finishing it because it is really good.

5. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. This is my favorite book and I re-read it every year. I have not done so this year and I do not want to be rushed while I am savoring it. (Side note: anyone else slightly disturbed by my constant use of food metaphors in relation to books/reading?)

This is it, my lovelies. I hope your Thanksgiving includes plenty of time for reading books that make you think, books that entertain you, and books that make you glad to be alive in this crazy world. I hope you get enough time with friends and family to feel well-loved and thankful for your life. I hope you eat a meal (or two or three) that is filling, memorable, and out of the norm. I hope you look at the world through a lens of thankfulness, rather than bitterness, even if it is only for a day. Be happy.