Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book Review : My Ántonia

A cousin of mine recommended this book to me because it was my grandmom's favorite. My grandmom passed away when I was 6, and I have hardly any memory of her, only stories from my dad. So anything that can bring me closer to her spirit, I accept readily.

My Ántonia is a beautiful mess of a book. The story is very slow, and from the moment I started till past halfway through the book, I felt like I'd jumped into a story that started somewhere else. None of the characters are particularly likable; in fact, the main character is downright annoying on many occasions, and the ones that have potential don't get much "page time."

These flaws have kept me from truly enjoying this book, and yet still it holds an element of intrigue. I read most of the book in a day, which is curious as it usually takes me months to struggle through to the end of a book I don't like. Willa Cather's writing is introspective with an autobiographical feeling to it. She lived in Nebraska, which is the story's setting, and it obviously had great impact on her life. Her descriptions are fluid, vivid, and read like none other I've read. When she writes I can smell the prairie, feel the cold of silent, grey winter twilight and the power of sun in a wide Nebraskan sky.

If you want to read a book with what I would call exquisite writing, then I would recommend you give this book a chance.

2.5/5 for the story
4/5 for the writing

Saturday, July 16, 2016

25 Bookish Facts About Me

1. I prefer the look of hardcovers but mostly enjoy reading paperback. It's just so awkward for my little T-Rex hands to hold a hardback.

2. If I'm really into a book, I become a speed-reader. 300 pages books in a day, 700+ pages books in 2 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the second Inheritance Cycle book, Eldest, for example).

3.  I've only read about 16 books this year. And that's more than last year and probably the year before that. I may be a speed-reader but that doesn't mean when I end one book I jump into the next right away.

4. I didn't read Harry Potter until I was 21. And still lived a fulfilled, imaginative childhood. How 'bout that. (Though yes, I do think they are brilliant now.)

5. I don't like to read when it's rainy. I know, it's the epitome of reader behavior, but when it's rainy I get a headache which makes for an unfavorable condition in which to read.

6. I don't eat or drink anything while reading. Ain't nobody got time for second breakfast when traveling to Mordor!

7. I get extremely irritated if interrupted while reading. This is something I've had to work on.

8. I judge a book by it's cover. You do it too, ya know ya do.

9. I'm not a library person. The libraries I grew up around were...pathetic. Small town, two closest libraries had poor selections, worn books (not antique worn, but disgusting where-has-this-book-been books), and were loud as they were the central hub for preteens getting out of school. I just didn't become that person who is comfortable going to the library for hours on end.

10. I AM a bookstore person. On the other hand, rare trips to "civilization" often included going to BAM! or Barnes and Noble. I get shivers entering those stores. Hundreds of books, geek out stations, coffee shops, writerly magazines...I could spend hours on the floor or curled up in a chair in the attached coffee shops with a pile of books, oblivious to the world.

11. I prefer owning my books. This probably relates to not growing up with great libraries.

12. I hate loaning out my books to people. You take my book, you have a set time to get it back to me. You do not bend back the front cover. You do not crease it at all. You do not let anyone else borrow it — actually, you don't let anyone else touch it. You do not get fingernail polish marks on it. You keep it away from all stoves, water, animals, small children...let's face it, I never loan my books out to people.

13. I never imagine characters I read to look like real-life people (e.g. celebrities). I do, however, do this for the characters I create in my own writing. Characters in books I read almost always have some sort of physical characteristic of my own, probably because I act out the emotions on my face while I'm reading (not necessarily purposefully...)

14. I rarely read one book at a time. It is annoying, yes, but I can't help myself.

15. Besides my dog, my books are my babies. Refer to #11.

16. I often get sad at the fact Narnia isn't real. I'm talking down in the dumps, stare into the sky longingly while cursing your over-productive tear ducts sad.

17. I hate reading e-books. I have several, which is disappointing because something about reading a book on a screen just bothers me, and I can't get into it.

18. I love Jane Austen, but no, Pride and Prejudice is not my favorite of her books. Shocking, I know.

19. My first literary crush was Haldir from Lord of the Rings. If you didn't like him, or worse, have no idea who that is, walk away. Right now.

20. I'm obsessed with dragons but really haven't read many "dragon books." There's been the Inheritance Cycle, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and that adorable book Dragonskin Slippers... and I think that might be it. I haven't even read The Hobbit (though I have seen the movies). Recommendations?!

21. I like audiobooks...sometimes. I enjoy them when I'm sick, or late at night when my eyes are too tired to read. My mind does tend to wander, though.

22. I have many unread books on my shelves. Many of them I just haven't gotten to, others I've tried and can't get into them, others I flat out don't want to read (most of those are books I acquired during school years and somehow managed to get away with not reading them). However...

23. I cannot get rid of books. Even if I'm not throwing them away, but donating them or giving them to a friend or church library, it hurts a little. I love seeing tons of books on my shelves, and parting with any of them...ugh.

24. I get annoyed when an author's name is bigger than the book title on a cover. I can deal with it if they are near the same size, but when I look at a book, I want to know what it's called, not author's name. It's comparable to casting someone in a movie based only on how famous they are.

25. I have a hard time with "the classics." Jane Austen, Fahrenheit 451, Jane Eyre, those I love. Shakespeare, To Kill a Mockingbird, Charles Dickens...I will run away screaming.

There you have it! Do you relate to any of these bookish things?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review: An Elegant Facade, Hawthorne House #2

To anyone else, Lady Georgina is a typical, spoiled young woman enjoying her first year out in society looking for a husband. Her ridiculous antics especially annoy Colin McCrae, a connected businessman lacking impeccable bloodlines. Little to the knowledge of her family and friends, Georgina is driven by a shameful secret, one that she has carefully hidden through the years and can only be remedied by her high social aspirations. But how long can she keep up this facade?

I haven't enjoyed a Christian fiction book in a while. So many of them are the same, in characters, predictability, storyline, etc. 

However, I enjoyed An Elegant Facade; I always love those stories which give a nod to Jane Austen. From the title character's mistaken first impressions, to chats during ballroom dances and the worry of finding a suitable husband, I think it's safe to say any Janeite interested in the genre would enjoy this story. 

 Kristi Ann Hunter adds mystery, danger, and intrigue, interspersed with delicious foreshadowing, just enough to keep you turning to the next page but distracted from discovering Georgina's secret too early. 
I thought Hunter did a wonderful job of introducing something new to an otherwise predictable story. I loved the author's writing style, and her characters had me hooked. 

( This is the second book in a series, and while you could read it alone, like I did, I think I would've had a few things cleared up if I'd read the first one. )

4/5 stars

**I received this book for free in exchange for review from Bethany House Publishers. 

I also want to apologize for the font issues in this post. I've tried everything I can think of and can't seem to fix it; hopefully it is a problem Blogger is having that will be sorted out in the next few days. I'll keep an eye on it.