Posts tagged l.m. montgomery

Some bookish thoughts.

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I can hardly believe it thanks to the way my year started, but I almost think I have a shot at this 52 Books in 52 Weeks goal.  I’ve gotten behind on reviews here, since a lot of books I’ve been reviewing for Tales From the Hollow Tree anyhow, and my life has gotten sadly chaotic lately—not that that’s much of an excuse, life has a tendency to do that every time we turn around, doesn’t it?

I’ve worked myself up to having read 4o books this year, though, just a dozen books shy of my ultimate goal—with that exact number of weeks left, as a matter of fact, so you see, I really do have a chance here, especially since I’m well on my way through a few books at this very moment.  I’ll let you wander over to the Hollow Tree if you want to read about YA Fantasy books, but these are a few of the other things I’ve been finishing off lately:

c-windy1aAnne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

Still really enjoying browsing slowly through the Anne books.  This was about the point where my attention would wander when I was younger—Gilbert wasn’t in it at all, and in my first, single-track-mind reading of this series, that was all I wanted to pay attention to.  It amazes me how many kinds and types of people L.M. Montgomery was able to write, though.  The latter part of this book, especially, feels like little more than a sampling of every-day humanity, though, and I think that’s why Montgomery’s books are as lasting as they are, because people don’t really change all that much, and Anne’s view of the sweet to the absurd is such a clear, kind way.  It’s like what I heard the actor who played Kirk (the town oddity) on Gilmore Girls say once about the creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, that she loved each one of the characters, even the odd ones, and that’s what made the characters so great.  I think the same is true for Montgomery.  She and Anne both love the range of humanity they’re presented with, and it shows.

A Book of Luminous Things edited by Czeslaw Milosz luminous

I’ve been trying my best to get back into reading poetry this year. In fact, the only New Year’s Resolution that I can actually remember, was to read a poem a day.  I failed pretty miserably in this, considering  Milosz’ book is the same one I cracked open on January 1st and it took me until mid-September to finish reading through it.  I’m glad I finally did, though.  This book was given to me in high school as a Christmas present from a good friend of mine, and every once in a while I’d open it up and read a poem or two, but I’d never have the forethought to actually read the thing through, which is a shame, because it is organized beautifully.  This was, quite honestly, the first collection of poems I’ve read straight through that wasn’t from a single author, but Milosz has it divided into segments, or “chapters” with introductions, that make it a truly enjoyable read.  I admit, too, that part of my love for it has to do with the fact that so many of the poets included are California poets, and there’s a certain flavor to Californian poetry that simply doesn’t  come from anywhere else, just like there’s a flavor to Russian novels or Italian opera.  It just is.  And that little taste of California is something that I always have, and always will love.


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I had to give in to this one, once I saw the commercials for the movie start to show. The idea was to read it in time to see the film, and while I did that, I haven’t seen the movie yet.  That’s okay with me, though, I’m sure I will in time.  This book… hm.  I can understand completely why so many people recommended it so highly to me, because it’s a beautiful read.  I enjoyed just about every moment of it, because it swallows you up and keeps you in Clare and Henry’s world pretty fully, and Niffenegger’s handle of language and even more so of the timelines involved in the story—an impressive feat in and of itself.  I have to confess myself a little disappointed by the ending, though—I can’t tell you exactly what disappointed me, as it’s a big-time spoiler, but let’s just say I would have hoped more for Clare.  Really a gorgeous book, though, all in all, and definitely worth the read.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This was one of those books that I was dying to read when I first heard about it… but then I kept passing it up at the bookstore for other things.  Or maybe I’m the only one who ever does that.  I admit, being broke and book-loving does not always mix supremely well together, so sometimes I run into conundrums like this.  The minute I saw this at the library, though, I snapped it up as quickly as I could.  I was due for some Austen-spin-offy fiction, having just read through the gamut of the master herself, and this fit the job nicely.  It was a bit odd that the focus was so much on Colin Firth as Darcy, rather on Darcy as Darcy, (like the outtake from Bridget Jones’ Diary where Bridget interviews Colin Firth as Colin Firth—if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend) but maybe I only feel that way because I think Mr. Firth is much more like Darcy in the book in… well, almost every P&P-ish adaptation movie I’ve seen him in, than he is in the actual BBC production.  But that’s just my own personal thing. I can’t get too excited about Dracy jumping into a lake—I thought that scene was actually pretty silly.

Really, though, this was a fun book, all about a girl who treats every relationship (even the passing, childhood ones) as if they’re going to end up at the alter, and the Darcy-esque fellow she snags by the end is a perfect combination of stuffy and sweet.

Now I’m going to duck and hide as all the BBC Pride and Prejudice fans throw old vegetation at me.  Ah well, I stand by my words.  Colin Firth continues to get better and better, that’s all I’m saying. 😛

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Book catch-up!

I’m way behind in chonicling my books, and I’m not going to be giving a full review for all twelve that I’ve missed thus far, but I’ll certainly tell you about a couple of them.

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

I really wanted to like this—I loved The Looking Glass Wars, and Beddor’s spin on the hows and whys Charles Dodgson was “wrong” about what Wonderland is really like.  The sequel though… I just didn’t enjoy it.  Beddor seems all-too taken with his own villains, and he enjoyed writing their scenes much more than I enjoyed reading them.  I found them to be a fairly sickening bunch, not even the type that are particularly enjoyable to hate, just plain vile.  They also seemed to occupy more than half of the novel, so the glimpses of the heroes that I really did enjoy… well they were still wonderful, but just not enough to counteract the bad taste the baddies were constantly leaving in my mouth.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

Another disappointment.  I really didn’t know what to expect going into this novel—I came by the series at a big discount sale and decided to try it, and while it was a fairly quick read… I just didn’t enjoy it much.  The faerie world was evocative and somewhat seducing, but the human world the main character was a part of… well that seemed almost as much fantasy as the other.  Her human friends came off as bad caricatures of 90s punks, and while I know that kids can be pretty hard-boiled about some things, I just didn’t buy it.  Also there are just some things played into here that do not appeal to me.  One of the main characters is obviously on a path towards… well, something that I don’t particularly care to see.  I may finish the series, since I already bought it, but it doesn’t come highly recommended from me.

Emma by Jane Austen

I’ve already mentioned that this one was a struggle for me this go around.  I don’t think it’s the book’s fault, I’m just not in a place in my life at the moment to have much patience with Miss Woodhouse.  Which is odd, because before reading this, I would have told you that it was (because it really is) one of my favorite Austen novels.  I’m starting to wonder, though, if I could enjoy it again.  The first time you read Emma is fabulous, because you follow along with her thoughts and (if you haven’t seen the film adaptations or paid too much attention to them) you more or less think like she does, expect her to be right about things, and then you’re taken by surprise by how things turn out, just as she is.  The second time is always fun, too, because then you can pinpoint all the things she’s missing as she misses them.  The third time, though… it just didn’t seem quite as fun.  I knew all the steps a bit too well.  I did love Jane Fairfax more than I have previously.  I wish, though, that I hadn’t watched both the films (Gwyneth and Kate) right before starting this.  Maybe that was a factor.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Just delicious.  I really can’t remember half of these books, so reading them again, a little older and able to appreciate more than just Gilbert Blythe (though I do still appreciate him quite a bit) is really a lovely experience.  I wound up copying down half the things Miss Lavender said to write them up in my quote book.  People don’t talk like this anymore… they can’t even really get away with it in fiction, which is a little unfortunate.

Lexi James and the Council of Girlfriends by Melissa Jacobs

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this.  The first third of it seemed mind-numbing chick-lit, with far too much detail about what every single character was wearing every single time they showed up on the scene… but it had a sweet, heartwarming, and nicely empowering ending.  Good stuff.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audio, read by Jim Dale)

I had never listened to Harry Potter on audio—I very much like hearing the actors’ voices in my head when I read voices—but my brother and I were setting off on a long roadtrip, and he wanted to freshen up his memory of the fifth book before seeing the sixth movie, and it was a lot of fun to listen to in the car.  I still prefer reading the books on my own, but as a group activity, the books on tape are lots of fun.

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Magnum

Sadly another disappointment.  This is being hailed all over as being “better than Twilight,” but I’m afraid that is just ridiculous.  I really wish I could say it was better than Twilight, because it’d be nice to see a college-bound multi-tasking, smart, responsible girl knock down Bella Swan and all her willingness to basically give up her life before she hits the age of twenty.  But while we keep being told that the main character is this fantastic, special, smart, strong girl… we really don’t see it at all.  I have some more nit-picky opinions about this novel concerning understudies and legendary artists and whatnot… but they’re a bit spoilery, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So yes, my reading of late has sadly not been of the most inspiring type, but I’m very much enjoying what I’m reading at the moment.  I’m continuing with Anne, of course, in Anne of the Island, and I’ve moved from Jane Austen to Jane Eyre, a revisitation to what really probably is my favorite book of all time… though Persuasion likes to vie for position.  I’ve also started (finally, finally) to read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, which all my friends rave about, because I’d really like to finish it before I see the film.  And while I’m only a couple of chapters in, it really is delicious.  Every line.

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Readerly Updates

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Apologies for the lack of updates.  Things have been interesting.  I’ve had quite a few family commitments that have made internet time almost non-existent.  In fact, it’s taken an early night on a business trip for me to even get a chance to poke my head in here, but while I haven’t been online much, I’ve definitely been reading.

I’m really starting to wonder if I’m a little ADD when it comes to reading, because I haven’t been finishing books very quickly, and I’m on a trend of reading at least four books at a time – three novels and a book of poetry – that I don’t know when it will end.

The one thing I have finished is my reread of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host.  I really resisted reading this the first go around, and took every chance to scrutinize it vocally that I could, but by the time it was over I couldn’t deny that I loved the thing.  It’s still a very bizarre book the second time around – bits of it remind me of a Miyazaki film on acid – but rereading it and knowing those parts were going to come in, it was a little easier to swallow.  I still have issues with a few little points where someone along the line (and that of course starts with Ms. Meyer herself) didn’t fact-check things very thoroughly (ask me about the honey issue sometimes… that one really irks me), and I still hate the first ten chapters.  But.  Ian.  O’Shea.  I have to admit, that if it came down to a fight to the death in Meyer characters for my affection… well, Ian is the only one who could give Jacob Black a run for his money.  Well maybe that Garrett fellow from Breaking Dawn—he was pure beauty.

I still get frustrated with various aspects of Meyer’s hackneyed sense of literary justice.  In Twilight, Bella gets her little circle of weirdly immortal friends/family, with no change, ever, and here we get a very strong character made pointedly weak and all but helpless at the very end of the novel.  It’s for that reason, mainly, that I wouldn’t mind it terribly if there aren’t any sequels to this, despite the fact that the ending leaves it very open for continuation.  My one leaning for a sequel, would be so we could learn more about Burns, because I just happen to have a weakness for tall redheads in stories (and in real life, for that matter).

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I’ve also been rereading some other things – I guess it’s a trend lately.  I’m indulging in a life-long crush and rereading Anne of Green Gables. I haven’t read this series in years, and never read all of it, actually, and I’d really like to.  Anne Shirley was one of my very first fictional friends, which I guess is true for millions of people.  The love story between Anne and Gilbert Blythe, which I’ve barely touched as of yet in the first novel, is one that’s influenced my taste for fictional pairings all my life—it’s something a half-step beyond “will they or won’t they,” there’s that spark that’s just as likely to explode in your face as it is to combust in a more positive way.  Anne is completely disdainful of Gilbert for years, on account of a percieved insult she recieved from him at their very first meeting, but Gilbert is struck, full victim to Anne’s overenthusiastic, romantic charms despite her temper.  That said, he never moons over his losses, and he doesn’t roll over and play dead, either.  While I wouldn’t say he fights back, really, Gilbert gets his digs in here and there, and his patience runs out at various times (very understandably), which is something I’ve always appreciated.  It makes the pair of them much more real than a saintly ever-lasting patience would.  (And along that line, how does Stephenie Meyer compare Edward and Bella to this?  Really?)

I’m reading Emma, also, to finish out my round of Austen novels, but it’s going surprisingly slowly.  I’ve always enjoyed this novel before, but it just seems to be dragging, which is strange because I know I’m comprehending more of it than I had the first two times I’d read it (Both for classes, and both rushed.  And both years ago).  Maybe I’m just distracted by the fact that the fourth Fablehaven novel comes out March 24th.  I am looking forward to that an awful lot.  Maybe not to Harry Potter proportions, but up there with Jasper Fforde, which is high in my book.

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