Top 10 Tuesday: Favorites without a blog post

Welcome back to Top 10 Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! The prompt for today wasn’t really speaking to me. So I decided to look through some old TTT topics and find one that sounded fun. I settled on favorite books that I have not blogged about.

I am still a pretty new blogger–it will be 2 years in June. And I did plenty of reading before that! One of my book goals this year is to reread some favorites and blog about them. Because some of these books are on my all time favorites list and deserve the spotlight here on my blog. Enjoy!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak // Although I hate the question “what is your favorite book,” this one always comes to mind. It’s definitely up there on my favorites list.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis // I finished this full series the summer before I started blogging. And I was blown away. I have posted a review of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but would love to do the full series. These are great read aloud books. In fact, I need to get back in the habit of reading aloud to my husband.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett // I loved this book when I read it years ago. And I am unsure if I have ever read it again. Would love to reread it this year!

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostovesky // This is the novel that inspired me to take a Russian Literature course in college (taught in English luckily) and is still one of my favorite classics ever. I’d love to blog more about why.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien // I am certainly not as die hard a LOTR fan as you can find out there. But I do enjoy these novels quite a bit and would love to tell you why.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster // This is one of my favorite books from my childhood. I remember just loving it as a kid. And I don’t think I’ve read it as an adult! Would love to reread it this year!

The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson // Same thing for this children’s book. I remember loving it as a kid (pre-Harry Potter even). It would be so fun to return to it now and see what I think.

The Giver by Lois Lowry // I had reread this book in recent years but it must have been pre-blog because I don’t have any review posted. Such a thought provoking novel that is both simple and sophisticated.

Shakespeare // Guys, I know I’m an anomaly, but I really enjoy reading Shakespeare. I took a great Shakespeare course in college, and a few more where were read some Shakespeare. Plus, I’ve seen several shows in London. I think I need to give the Bard some time and share why I enjoy his plays so much (and perhaps how I understand them too 😉 ).

What are some of your favorites that you want to blog about?

 

 

[Until the Dawn]: A Review

Happy Monday night, everyone! I hope yours involves plenty of relaxing and chocolate. The Easter candy is out at Target so you bet we got our first bag of Cadbury mini eggs of the season. Is there anything better than Easter candy? I think not.

I’m still playing catch up on my reviews so this one comes a bit late. I am really excited to share a few thoughts about Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden. This is my second Camden novel and was just as wonderful as With Every Breath (see my review here).

Initial Thoughts:

  • I love the unique settings of Elizabeth Camden’s novels. I always learn so much about the time period and place that she sets her stories in (in this case: Hudson Valley, NY at the turn of the 20th century).
  • I would love to eat a meal (any meal) that came out of Sophie’s kitchen. I wanted to eat fresh oysters after her description of them. In fact, my pregnant self totally had scrambled eggs and muffins after a description of Sophie’s first breakfast cooked at Dierenpark.
  • Camden is a great storyteller. Not only does she give readers unique settings and engaging characters, but she also creates suspenseful plots that pull you into the story. You keep guessing how they will end but I never see the final twist coming. I can’t put her novels down. They are the type of books that I have to finish quickly so I can move on with my life.
  • There are a few intense moments in this novel, especially in regards to Quentin’s health. I must admit I skipped ahead at a few points because my pregnant stomach is a bit weaker than my usual one.

51d0qwvkiml-_sx345_bo1204203200_

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden follows the story of Sophie van Riijn–a volunteer running a weather station for the national Weather Bureau atop the roof of the abandoned Dierenpark mansion. Her world collides with Quentin Vandermark’s, the first Vandermark to return to Dierenpark in years. He plans to tear down the mansion to remove a mysterious family curse. But he does not expect to encounter or fall in love with Sophie. She is the only one that seems to connect with his young son and the only one that can help Quentin and his family move forward. Can Sophie and Quentin find a way to save Dierenpark and build a life together? Or will rumors and trouble overcome their growing faith?

Sophie is one of those people that is instantly likable. You can’t help it. You root for her from the moment you meet her. You want to be her friend. And you want her to find true happiness by the end of the novel. I admire her constant optimism and determination to make something of herself and of her life, regardless of setbacks. I also admire her stalwart faith in God and strength to stand up for that faith in the face of intense opposition (aka Quentin). Sophie’s goals and ambitions in life mirror my own and perhaps that is why I appreciated her fight for love and family.

Quentin is basically the opposite of Sophie. He is rude, arrogant, and unwilling to hear others’ opinions at the start of the novel. He is a person I would not want as a friend or even an acquaintance. But the redeeming aspect of Quentin is that he changes. And as you get to know him better, you realize his cold exterior is hiding a warm heart and a fierce loyalty to his family. Quentin loves his son more than anyone in the world. And I may have shed a few tears during the scenes where he rescues him from the bees and sits up by his sick bed all night. I also love his love for Sophie and how he wants to be better for her. At first, he fights it, which is pretty funny. But embracing love makes him a better man.

Theirs is an unexpected and intense romance. I sighed when Quentin finally admitted his feelings for Sophie, swooned over their first kiss, and nearly cried my eyes at at all they are willing to sacrifice for each other. I so appreciate the strength, friendship, and work that Quentin and Sophie must put into their relationship. They are not perfect people, but they are closer to perfection together (as I think marriage should be for us all).

Dierenpark is such a compelling and mysterious setting. It creates a unique atmosphere of both paradise and fear for various people. Camden creates such an engaging story surrounding the strange history of the mansion and the Vandermark family that kept me turning the pages quickly. I was hooked on the mystery and how all the pieces fit together. The ways Camden blends magic and religion, superstition and science are engaging and exciting.

Faith plays a major role in this novel, and I appreciated the way it solves so many problems. As faith is such a central part of my life, I was glad to read of Sophie standing up for her beliefs, Quentin returning to his faith, and the ways faith illuminate the mystery surrounding Dierenpark. Camden incorporates religion seamlessly into her narrative. It helps to create a full, rich story without being overly preachy or self-righteous.

A few favorite quotes:

“For nothing was more debilitating to the human soul than the loss of all hope. Sophie didn’t have much to brag about in this world, but her ability to nurture the flame of hope in the face of despair had been her salvation all her life.”

“What I feel for you is illogical and irrational, but it’s not fading. You’ve inspired me to find a piece of my soul I didn’t believe I had, but it is awakening and coming to life. You’ve been leading me Into a sunlit world I never even knew existed. Don’t give up on me yet…Give us time.”

“Happiness wasn’t the absence of pain, it was the joy of life.”

Until the Dawn, pages 53, 287, 331

The title of this novel is so profound. I think for both Sophie and Quentin, they have been enduring a long night of trials and hardships in their lives. But together, they can greet the dawn. A fabulous novel from one of my new favorite authors. Highly recommend this one!

green stargreen stargreen stargreen stargreen star

What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?

 

 

2017 Book Goals!

Hi everyone! I know this post seems late. And frankly, it is. I had great intentions of thinking about and posting my 2017 book goals in January. But my turning point came a bit later this pregnancy so here we are! I am really excited about these goals. Should be another great year of reading 🙂

anne-of-green-gables-paperbacks

Anne of Green Gables, the complete series // I absolutely love Anne of Green Gables. But I must admit I have only read the first few books in the 8 book series. So this year, I want to read them all. Since there are 8 books, I am planning on doing a little read along during the second half of this year. And I’m looking for a co-host! Let me know if you are interested 🙂

award-winning_books

5 Prize Winners // This is the goal that widens my usual reading scope. By prize winner, I mean books that have won the Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, Nobel Prize, etc. I want to keep it pretty open so I can have some flexibility in choosing. I picked up several at a local book sale last fall and those are the top of my list.

ny-times-best-seller

5 Bestsellers // Another pretty broad topic. The purpose of this goal is to read books that are popular–NY Times Bestsellers mostly. I see all these great books that everyone seems to rave about on blogs, Goodreads, social media, etc. And I don’t always find time for them. So that’s what I hope to do this year.

calm

5 Rereads // I am really excited about this goal. I have several favorite novels that I rave about here on my blog but have not read in years. This year, I want to read and review them here on Greenish Bookshelf. First on my list is The Book Thief.

 

7 Classics // And it wouldn’t be a list of book goals without some classics. I continue to really enjoy participating in The Classics Club. As of the end of January, I have read 13 classics on my Classics Club list. If I read 7 more this year, my total will be up to 20! I already have several I want to read this year.

Read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo // I have 5 long classics (around 1000 pages) on my Classics Club list for the next several years. I just finished War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. And this year I am so excited to read Les Mis. I love this musical so much and look forward to reading the full novel.

dsc_0079_2

Read 50 books total // And the ultimate goal. This year I hope to read 50 total novels. This is a little bit lower than the number I read last year. But with pregnancy and a newborn coming, I thought I would be a bit conservative 😉 I think this is definitely doable!

There you have it! My 2017 book goals. Happy reading everyone!

What are your book goals for this year?

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Literary Couples

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! I hope your day is full of lots of love and chocolate 🙂

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is all about this great day celebrating love.  I decided to share some of my favorite literary couples. No limit to time period or genre (or number for that matter). Just some of my favorite love stories. Enjoy!

And for more Valentine’s day fun, check out my post about favorite romantic quotes from last year.

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice // Classic and for a good reason. There is something so beautiful about their love story. Never gets old. While I’m at it, I need to add a few more Austen romances to this list…Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility; Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley, Emma; Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park.

Anne Elliott and Fredrick Wentworth // I just love this couple. I love that they fell in love when they were young and never really moved on. Fredrick’s declaration of love in his letter at the end of the novel is one of the great declarations in literature.

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables // I adore these two. Their romance is such a long time coming. But it is so worth it when Anne finally realizes Gilbert has had her heart all along. Also, how fantastic is the movie adaptation?

Marianne Daventry and Philip Wyndham, Edenbrooke // One of my favorite romances period. I love the love story that develops between these two–it’s quirky and real and passionate. Also their first kiss in the library–I’m still fantasizing about it!

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre // I really love this novel which took me a long time to finally read. The journeys both these characters must make are intense and inspiring but the ending reunion between these two is just lovely.

America Singer and Prince Maxon, The Selection Series // I love how real these two can be with each other. And yet, in the midst of change and unorthodox dating practices, they can discover that they are meant to be together.

Jo March and Laurie, Little Women // Yes, I know they don’t end up together. But they should! I think they are so good together, bring out the best in each other and are just so much fun. Still made at Jo for rejecting him.

Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, Harry Potter series // As much as I love Harry and Ginny’s relationship (in the books!), I think this one is still my favorite. Perhaps it’s because of how long it takes for these two to get together, the many allusions to them liking each other before they admit it, or that awesome first kiss in book 7.

Margaret Hale and John Thornton, North and South // I must admit this is based only on the BBC adaptation of the book. I have not yet read the book but that was enough to endear this couple to me and inspire me to read the book sooner rather than later.

Eleanor and Park, Eleanor and Park // This is one of the most beautiful and tragic romances I have ever read. This couple needs each other in such a deep, passionate way that takes my breath way.

Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars // This is the love story I read when I want to cry my eyes out. Such a beautiful, passionate, and heart wrenching romance between two kids running out of time.

Henry Lee & Keiko Okabe, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet // One of my recent absolute favorite books. And this sweet, innocent romance is just lovely. And that love stands between seemingly impossible obstacles. I laugh, I cry, and I root for them from page one.

Miri and Peder, Princess Academy // These two are so sweet. They have been best friends for their whole lives. And then that friendship deepens into a beautiful love story. My favorite Shannon Hale love story.

Bonus: Victoria and Albert // Okay, technically not literary but I’m obsessed with Masterpiece’s Victoria series and just love their love story in general.

Okay, that was hard to narrow down! I can already think of like 10 more that deserve to be on this list! So many great literary couples.
Who are some of your favorites?

 

[War and Peace]: A Small Review

Happy Saturday, my friends!

As you probably recall from this post, I recently finished the 1000 page masterpiece, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Check out my earlier posts about War and Peace as well.

Guys, I still kind of can’t believe it! This is, by far, the longest book I have ever read and it certainly lived up to the intensity, hype, and grandeur that I have given it all these years. I think I’m still rather intimidated by it. And I have been thinking about how to synthesize a 1000 page novel into about a 1000 word review. So this is a bit different than my usual review. But I’m pleased with how it turned out. I want this to be helpful for people that want to tackle this novel and need a little encouraging to feel up to the task.

If I can do it, you can read it too!

warandpeace

Why I think War and Peace is so hard:

Frankly, this book is long. There are a lot of pages to cover, and it’s easy to get discouraged. But I think the key to overcoming that is to try to read a little bit every day. The nice thing about the format is the longer books are broken up into fairly short chapters. Sometimes, I just read a few of those chapters a day.

There are so many characters! It’s fairly easy to keep the main families straight. (Once I figured out that some have multiple names that they respond to). But then there are the Russian and French armies and the different ranks and how they are all connected. That gets hard to keep together. I found that a character guide was helpful (there’s a lot online that you can print) and not getting to bogged down by keeping them straight. Honestly, there are different tiers of importance with the characters. And sometimes not knowing how they all fit together is okay.

It’s not all action-packed plot. My favorite books focus on the interactions between the aristocratic families in Russia. Some books are all about military minutia and how the armies are moving across the continents. Others are focused on Tolstoy’s beliefs about history, war, patriotism, or money. That makes the novel hard to stay invested in because the scenes and focuses of the books change. You might have to wait for 100+ pages to hear what happened to Prince Andrew or how Pierre survived captivity or whether Natasha and Princess Mary are actually friends. It’s hard to remember where certain story lines left off. But I think, overall, these different ideas add to the mastery of the work.

This novel covers a lot of time in a lot of detail. We start with the initial military campaign against Napoleon in 1803 and end in the late 1810s after he fails to take over all of Russia. And we get all the details about those 15+ years. Tolstoy is giving us a complete history of sorts from this time period. And it is slow and long. That makes this book hard. While most novels give us the highlights, the adventures, the excitement, this book gives us everything–the interactions, the battles, the preparation, the explanations about military, money, history, and more. And Tolstoy is truly a master to effectively put it all together this way.

Is this a novel?

I think it’s important to note that this book does more than the average novel. It covers more time, more philosophy and commentary, more characters, more pages. In fact, Tolstoy himself did not call it a novel. It’s important to realize that War and Peace is not trying to be a traditional novel; in fact, it’s trying to be different. I think that knowledge can help readers better appreciate what Tolstoy is doing. And it helps to not judge it like it was a traditional novel.

My Favorite Elements in War and Peace:

By far, my favorite characters in the books were the Rostov family and (by extension) Pierre and the Bolkonsky family. I enjoyed reading about the changes and challenges in their lives and personalities. It’s not often that a book gives us the detailed lives of so many characters through so many years of their lives. I could have read more about them and less about the war.

The chapters that I enjoyed the most were also about these families. It was in the sections about the Russian aristocracy that I found myself engulfed in the story–Natasha and Prince Andrew’s engagement, Pierre’s captivity in Moscow, the first epilogue of the book and more. I must admit it wasn’t too often when I was so into the story that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. But every so often, I found myself really enjoying the narrative.

The deeper elements:

By the end of the book, I came to really appreciate the deeper elements in the novel. When I say “deeper,” I am talking about the themes and the philosophical commentary. Tolstoy is a master at incorporating both. At first, I thought it was a bit distracting from the narrative and the characters. But as the novel continued, I found myself fascinated by his commentary–sometimes even more so than the narrative.

This book is full of beautifully developed themes. A few of my favorites with questions…

  • History: This seems to be the main theme of the entire work. In fact, Tolstoy devotes the majority of his final epilogue to the subject. I found  How is history written? How can we find truth in history written by imperfect people?
  • Religion: How do God and religion affect people? How can God change perspective, heal wounds, eliminate grief, and change lives in different people? Does God control history? Why or why not?
  • War: What is the purpose of war? How do the decisions of generals truly affect the course of war? How does God play a role in the outcomes of wars and in history?
  • Redemption: How can one find redemption and forgiveness?
  • Honor: Why is honor so important? How does it affect our actions in war and in life?

The final epilogue is a masterpiece. I wasn’t sure how Tolstoy could effectively end such a long book. But he does it. It’s beautiful, compelling, and poignant.

Advice for Future Readers of War and Peace:

I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips that helped me successfully finish this 1000 page masterpiece. It’s worth the effort!

  • Read a little bit everyday. Even if it’s just a few chapters, you’ll feel like you are accomplishing something.
  • Try reading War and Peace on kindle or listening to the audiobook. The kindle version saved me. Reading the tiny print in my copy was often discouraging and hard. I preferred the kindle.
  • Digest every book separately. I wrote shorter reviews for most of the books within the novel which helped me keep characters and plot lines straight.
  • Just keep swimming! Keep reading and push through the hard parts. It is worth finishing!

I don’t feel like I can really rate this book on a 5 star scale. As it is in a genre and class all by itself, I think I will simply say that this book is truly a masterpiece. It is worth the effort to read and the accomplishment of finishing it is amazing!

This novel is another one finished for my list with The Classics Club. Check out my full list here. For more info on the club, click here.

classicsclub

[Dear Mr. Knightley]: A Review

This post is part of the awesome I Love Austen Week hosted over at Hamlette’s Soliloquy!

austen2bweek2b1

Hi everyone! Today I am finally back with a new review. I have actually been able to read quite a bit in this new year. But wow, I have been behind on reviews from the beginning of this year. Between birthdays and pregnancy and life, I can’t seem to catch up! Also, I am kind of obsessed with the new Victoria series on Masterpiece PBS and you should all check it out. Seriously, it’s amazing!

This week, I am determined to at least make a dent in those reviews. I’m starting with Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay which both delighted and surprised me. The title is what first drew me to this book. I mean, a book that references Jane Austen in the title: what’s not to love?! But this novel is so much more than just a clever title. I read it quickly, in just a few days. It felt great to be engrossed in a story again. Now that I have read one book by Reay, I am clamoring to read all her books!

Initial thoughts:

  • This is a perfect book for book nerds. Reay so effortlessly alludes to so many great classic novels. I loved feeling nerdy enough to catch them 🙂
  • Reay writes about food and small details so beautifully.
  • This was a perfect first book for me post-first-trimester. It was easy to get into, the characters are easy to connect with, and it has intense emotions throughout.

17657649

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay is an epistolary novel written from the perspective of Samantha Moore–a graduate student in journalism at Northwestern writing to her financial benefactor who uses the pen name Mr. Knightley. Goodreads relates, “Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. . . . As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

I love the epistolary form (written in letters) of this novel. I have raved about the epistolary form before here on greenish bookshelf (most notably in this review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society). I think more books should be written in letters. It offers such a unique look at the events of novels and gives us an in depth look inside the head and heart of characters. Sam happens to write great letters that bring Mr. Knightley and readers of the novel into the heart of her experiences. We feel her excitement and fear at the opportunity to study at Northwestern. We connect with her pain and strength as we learn about her past. And we cheer for her as she makes her way towards love and family.

Sam is easy to connect with. I was rooting for her from the first letter. But what surprised me is how difficult her life has been. I think it is impressive that Reay creates a protagonist that is relatable and likable but also has a pretty extreme background. I haven’t read many books with main characters like Sam. Just about nothing in Sam’s life seems like my life. If anything, those differences made me more grateful for my blessed life and more invested in reading about Sam. But I found myself connecting with Sam’s experiences as a college student, her desires to move forward in her life, and her nerdy love of all things Austen. I wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to find happiness, love and family.

The genre of this novel is intriguing. It is not strictly a romance, although there are plenty of romantic elements in it. And I enjoyed those elements. If I had to define the genre of this book, I would probably call it a coming-of-age story or a realistic fiction novel.  I am certainly a fan of Christian and historical romance novels. And this book does offer some beautiful potential in the romance department. But it’s certainly not the focus. While we all hold our breath as Sam gets to know Alex, it’s refreshing to see them build a friendship rather than just a romantic attachment. And my favorite relationship in the novel wasn’t even romantic–it was the relationship Sam forges with the Meurs.

What surprised me most about the novel is the depth of the themes explored within its pages. I must admit that some even made me uncomfortable–because I am not usually one to read about them. I did not expect to encounter the intensity of such themes as child abuse, foster parenting, alcoholism, physical abuse, and emotional trauma. I think it’s important to know that these themes are in this novel. If you are unprepared for a novel that discusses such deep issues, I would not read this book. But if you feel prepared for the intensity and emotion of these themes, this novel is well worth the effort.

Easily, my favorite parts of the novel are the Jane Austen references and general literary nerdiness of the novel. This is a book I want to write–full of fantastic literary tropes and quotes from some of my favorite novels. I loved feeling like I was part of an insider club as I caught the different references to Austen books or immediately identified the speaker of a particular quote. I am impressed by how seamlessly Reay incorporates Austen into her own story. While Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Dickens, and others certainly play a big role in Sam’s story, they add to the story that Reay has already created.

Some of my favorite quotes are about love, finding yourself, and moving forward:

“I’ve heard all sorts of things about a kiss (melting, fireworks, music), but no one ever told me it’s a conversation: asking, accepting, deciding, inviting, giving… questions posed and answered.”

“Never let something so unworthy define you.”

“So much inside us is more powerful if drawn out at the right time and in the right way.”

Dear Mr. Knightley, pages 93, 173, 218

Overall, a fun and emotional novel that will leave both Austen fans and Austen newbies satisfied and ready for more from this author. Highly recommend this one!

green stargreen stargreen stargreen stargreen star

Have you read any of Katherine Reay’s books?
Which should I read next (besides The Bronte Plot which I just finished!)

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Non-book favorites

Hi everyone! Today I’m back with a post as part of Top 5 Wednesday. T5W is a weekly meme is hosted by Sam @ ThoughtsOnTomes.  You can visit the Goodreads T5W group for more info. This week I’m picking an old topic again (I just keep finding fun ones!) Today’s is Current Favorites that Aren’t Books.

118368

These things read really random. But that’s what I feel like life is right now. Just making it through every day as we count down to July and baby #2!

v_s1_preview_official-trailer_poster

Victoria on Masterpiece PBS // Guys, I am basically obsessed with this show. I have always loved Victoria and Albert. This series is beautifully acted and engaging. I seriously watch every episode like 4 times. Can’t recommend this highly enough!

4950800827_full

Dark chocolate covered pretzel crisps from Costco // So delicious. Go get some now. You’re welcome.

619ilppyojl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Crossword puzzles // I have been into crosswords lately and just really like them. I feel like I’m not wasting time when I do them. Using my brain, right?

gilmoregirls

Gilmore Girls, the early seasons // I have been binge watching these in between episodes of Victoria. I love the early years!

giphy

Breakfast // The thing I crave most this pregnancy, by far, is breakfast. We eat breakfast for dinner a little less often now (2-3 times a week instead of every night). But it’s definitely still my favorite.

What are you loving right now that isn’t books?

Top 10 Tuesday: I need to read more…

Welcome back to Top 10 Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s prompt is  I Wish Had (More/Less) ___ In Them. I surprisingly found this topic kind of hard. So I twisted it a bit and decided to share some of the books that I can’t believe I haven’t read. I’m talking about books that it seems every fellow book blogger/reader has read, books I have been meaning to read forever, and books everyone seems to rave about. Enjoy!

Classics:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens // I have tried this one at least three times but I get distracted and don’t get too far. I am determined to finish it one of these years for The Classics Club. Hoping that year is this year!

Something besides Narnia by C. S. Lewis // People rave about Lewis (and I rave about Narnia) but I still haven’t read much by him.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen // I know the story, I love the movie, I need to read the book.

The full Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery // I think I have read about 3 of the books. I finally own the full series and I really want to read them this year. Anyone want to read with me?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo // Another classic that I absolutely love (I saw the musical in London on my study abroad. It was life changing!). But I still haven’t read it yet. But after finishing War and Peace, I feel like I can do this one too 🙂

A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank // I feel like I have read pieces of this book but never the full account.

On my TBR Forever:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas // I have been meaning to give Maas a try for a long time.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard // I feel like so many book bloggers have read this book and I have still not read it.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel // I bought this book at a local book sale last year. And I have been wanting to read it for a while now. The movie is beautiful.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee // I go back and forth between actually wanting to read this and wanting to keep my opinion of To Kill a Mockingbird as it is. Thoughts?

What books do you really need to read?

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Beautiful Book Covers

Welcome back to Top 10 Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s theme is all about visuals. I decided to share some of my favorite book covers that I think are just beautiful. Enjoy!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, illustrated edition

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

What are some of your favorite book covers?

 

[Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows]: A Review

Hi everyone! Okay, I am several reviews behind. But I figured I would start this week by finishing my Harry Potter Marathon 2016. If you remember, I read one Harry Potter book from May to December and posted a fun review of them. I did actually read the final installment of the series in December, but with first trimester illness, I am still playing catch up.

This is one of my favorite books in the series. And it didn’t disappoint this time. So without further ado, some thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

dh-us-jacket-art

My first experience with this book – I was at a church summer camp when this book came out so my mom brought it to me when she picked us up. I was with my cousin again and again I beat him easily to finish. I remember crying as Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Dobby and others died. But respecting Rowling for being willing to sacrifice her characters for the story. What I remember loving most about this book is the ending. I love the way the last few books become so connected and the little encounters that become so pivotal to the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. Every time I read this book, it lives up to my expectations–one of the best finales ever.

What surprised me this time – I was surprised how many times Harry almost dies in this book. I remember there being a lot of these moments when I’ve read this in the past. But it really stuck out to me this time. Of course, the whole series is full of near-death experiences for Harry. Also, I was surprised by how much time passes in this book. Every step they take requires weeks or months of planning. I also forgot how little Harry actually learns from Dumbledore about Voldemort. Harry doesn’t have a lot of information about some of the horcruxes. Sometimes it was a small miracle they figure out where another horcrux is located or manage to escape a dire situation. But that’s always what I love about this series. It’s a classic good vs. evil story, a story about a boy trying to save the world, and while we love the action, we also want Harry to win.

Who I love most in this book – I think Hermione proves how incredible she is in this book both in knowledge and in friendship. Even though the search for horcruxes doesn’t always go very well, she does not abandon Harry and his quest. I love Dobby. He doesn’t hesitate to come save Harry and the others. He values friendship over everything else. And he sacrifices everything to help. I love Snape in this book. He is one of my favorite characters in the series because of how complex he is. His role as a double agent is so intriguing. I love Molly Weasley in this book. She is such a wonderful, caring, and strong mother. Love her defeat of Bellatrix LeStrange as well. And I love Professor McGonagall, Lupin, Kreacher, and all the others who help Harry along the way.

How I see Harry, Ron, and Hermione changing – It’s interesting how insightful Dumbledore is in the gifts he bequeaths these three. First, he sees the journey Ron will have to make to return to Harry after doubting him and leaving. Second, he knows Hermione will be inquisitive and thorough enough to find the deathly hallows sign and discover it’s meaning. And he knew Harry’s eventual fate but also knew Harry was stronger than he thought and braver than Voldemort understood. These three characters have sure come a long way from the first book. But in many ways, their best qualities have been amplified–courage, loyalty, and a belief in what’s right.

What I learn from this book – Good can always triumph over evil. A classic theme that Harry Potter beautifully offers to readers. There are far worse fates than death. Voldemort is obsessed with finding immortality and avoiding death. Yet, we see that his use of horcruxes has damaged his soul beyond repair, and he is unwilling to change. Harry approaches death with peace and surrounded by those he love. I know who I want to be like–Harry. The love of family and friendship are worth more than anything else in this world. It is because of his family and friends that Harry can overcome all the obstacles thrown at him. And I love the strength and loyalty he finds in them.

How I would teach this book in a class – Oh the beautiful bookish possibilities here! I would love to have students write a culmination essay about the entire series after reading this one. Perhaps charting the development of a character over time. Or discussing the ways death, loyalty, greed, or history change as the series progresses. A discussion of Dumbledore would be interesting in connection with this book when we learn so much more about his childhood and former views. How has he changed? Does that change how we feel about him as a character? And I think it would be fun to discuss the epilogue to the book. It might be fun to assign students a point of view (either they like it or think it is a waste) and see what they come up with to debate. I happen to like it, just for the record. And of course, we could do a fun essay on titles in the series or Harry’s development, or even bring in The Cursed Child in to the discussion.

As always, some great quotes in this book:

As always, I have to give this book high marks. It was this series that got me reading, kept me reading late into the night, and inspired me to continue to read my whole life. Thank you, Harry.

green stargreen stargreen stargreen stargreen star

Thanks for joining me on this journey to reread Harry Potter. Please check out my other reviews of the books found on my review page.

Which Harry Potter book is your favorite?