Saturday, April 30, 2011

My sweet husband bought me three new novels this week; I felt like a child at Christmas time when my package finally arrived! Recently, one of my friends recommended that I read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. She described this novel as a cross between elements found in both the Harry Potter series and the Twilight saga. I have never read any of the Harry Potter novels, but I enjoyed Twilight.

The book I am most excited about reading is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. While chatting with my fellow English teachers, they highly recommended that I read this novel for my gothic reading challenge!

Finally, there is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I have read a little background information on this book, and it looked like one I would enjoy for the reading challenge as well.

I also downloaded two freebies to my kindle: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole and The Monk by Matthew Lewis.

I am currently wading through The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I have enjoyed what I have read so far; however, I wish the story would move along a little more quickly.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Historian

I just finished reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (my third gothic novel. . .17 more to go!). While reading part one, I was not certain that I would have the patience to finish this novel. I am an Anne Rice, and even aTwilight, fan, so I was excited to read a "vampire" novel; however, in reading part one I was thinking I would never get to the "action" so to say. Luckily, part two and three were much more intriguing. It only took me one day to read those two parts! 

Kostova's novel intertwined several narratives. I am still contemplating the necessity of the multiple narratives being that several of the characters had almost exact experiences while searching for Dracula's tomb. The Historian was a daunting read at close to 700 pages. I would recommend this to any readers who have an interest in vampire novels, legends, etc. On a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate this novel a 3.5. Several parts of the end did not work for me, (SPOILER ALERT!) especially the absence of Helen for several years after her marriage to Rossi and the birth of their daughter, Helen. What was the point of her disappearance if Dracula was not really killed, which readers could infer since Helen (Rossi's daughter) received her own blank book with the symbol of the dragon? Instances such as these left me unsatisfied in reading this novel. Perhaps The Historian ending in such a way because there will be a sequel?? If so, I don't think it would be too high on my To Be Read list. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shakespeare Reading Challenge

This is the last one for real! I could not resist joining my third (and final) challenge. Someday I hope to be able to work for a Shakespeare festival or institute; therefore, this challenge was a no-brainer. I absolutely had to give it a try and brush up on my Shakespeare. I wish I could time travel back to my sophomore year of college so that I could take my Shakespeare course more seriously. One could study Shakespeare for a lifetime and still have more to learn.

Here are the rules from

Welcome to the 2011 Shakespeare Reading Challenge! 

First off, the Levels:

1. Puck: Read 4 plays over the year, 1 of which may be replaced by a performance
2. Desdemona: Read 6 plays, 2 of which may be replaced by a performance
3. Henry V: Read 12 plays, 3 of which may be replaced by a performance

Now, the Rules:

1. All plays must be read between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Anything begun before that cannot be included.
2. Audio versions are also acceptable but all plays must be unabridged.
3. You don't need to list your plays ahead of time but you may, if you'd like. 
4. Review pages for each month will be created but are optional.

My Goal: Desdemona

My Tentative Reading List:

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream
2. As You Like It
3. The Tempest
4. Love's Labour's Lost
5. Much Ado About Nothing
6. Measure for Measure

Last year I read: Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, & Othello. Enough tragedy for now!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Color Coded Reading Challenge

Okay, this looks like an addiction. I have barely started reading my third gothic novel, and I am already joining new challenges! Fortunately, some of the gothic novels I plan to read have colors in the title (The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, etc.), so I decided to give it a try!

Here are the rules:

Read nine books in the following categories.
1. A book with "Blue" in the title.

2. A book with "Red" in the title.
3. A book with "Yellow" in the title.

4. A book with "Green" in the title.
5. A book with "Brown" in the title.

6. A book with "Black" in the title.
7. A book with "White" in the title.

8. A book with any other color in the title (Purple, Orange, Turquoise, Pink, Magneta, etc.).
9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).

Any suggestions of other gothic novels with colors in the title?!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

It was very appropriate that I followed Setterfield's, The Thirteenth Tale immediately after finishing Jane Eyre. Setterfield's likeness for Bronte's novel is very evident to her readers. Being a book addict, I was immediately sucked into Margaret's story when I learned that she lived/worked in an antique bookstore in England. As I read, I became a bigger fan of Vida Winter though. It was Mrs. Winter's mysterious incestuous  past that kept me turning the pages; therefore, Margaret's own narrative eventually failed to amuse or intrigue me.

I enjoyed this novel . . . except for one thing: modern day "ghosts" are not near as enjoyable to read about -- to me -- as 19th century (and earlier) ones. Many parts of the stories about the two sets of twins were interesting; however, at the end, Setterfield's narrative was a bit stretched by what I can best describe as a reconnection between Margaret and the twin sister she never knew. I guess I have to admit that I was much more partial to Vida Winter's story rather than the novel's protagonist.

For the remainder of the Gothic Reading Challenge, I plan to return to more of the classics.

Gothic Reading Challenge

While searching for a list of gothic romance novels, I came across an intriguing challenge -- Gothic Reading Challenge. I must give this challenge the credit for ultimately pushing me to create my own blog -- a definite challenge for a newly married, graduated lady on the move, literally. In the next two months I will be relocating to the Midwest, but 8 hours in the car should allow plenty time for reading, right?

Back to the challenge at hand. I recently read Jane Eyre for the very first time. I was almost offended that no teacher had required me to read this exquisite novel being that both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in English education. Jane Eyre is one of the best books I had ever read. EVER.  Hungry for more scenarios like those in this novel, I began hunting for my next gothic novel. I was super excited to find one sitting in my very own living room. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a novel I have been aching to read over the past few years. School did not permit me to read as many outside novels as I normally would. Therefore many of the books I will begin blogging about will be novels that have accumulated on my To Be Read list. I must confess that it is very appropriate that I am just now able to fit this novel into my reading schedule because if I had read it earlier, I would have not been able to fully enjoy and understand the references to Jane Eyre.

Although I am joining this challenge late, I have read two gothic novels this year, and I am currently reading a third, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

Here is the info:

There is nothing better than a great Gothic read - crumbling old castles, mysterious legends, shadowy characters, supernatural beings and unexplainable events, make for some of the most haunting and captivating reading imaginable.

There are four levels of participation to choose from:

A Little Madness - Read just 1 novel with Gothic elements.

The Darkness Within - Read 5 novels with Gothic elements.

A Maniacal Frenzy - Read 10 novels with Gothic elements.

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know - Read 20 novels with Gothic elements.

MY GOAL: 20!!
I am excited to finally have a book blog. I have been contemplating the idea for weeks, but now that I am done with school, I have decided that I am ready for a new challenge! Reading any book I want and sharing my thoughts on these books with fellow bloggers sounds like fantastic fun! I can't wait to jump into the challenges I have found on other blogs. . .