After a big book fail in April, I pulled myself together and read six books in May! It felt great to plow through most of these stories in a single day, but it was also lovely to spend my walks to work reading some classic literature (Far From the Madding Crowd). Once upon a time, I'd read one classic novel for every three or four new releases/YA novels, but I fell off the wagon. I think Thomas Hardy has convinced me to get back into books from 1860-1910 (my favorite novel era). Besides books, I had a bit of running burnout in May, so perhaps that gave me extra time for reading?
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Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Review: 4 / 5
Review: 4 / 5
It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did it went fast...er. I didn't fly through it, but it held my attention. Unfortunately, I can't say much because there are so many spoilers, but it's definitely a weird story. I'm sorry... I really can't say any more. I think it could make an interesting movie, but they'd have to shorten it quite a bit.
Patience by Daniel Clowes
Review: 5 / 5 Maybe not a true 5 (AKA "best ever"), but it was an exciting read with great art. I always think Daniel Clowes artwork is beautiful (and weird), but Patience has some impressive full page spreads. I didn't see where the story was going in the beginning, but once I got about a third of the way in, I was hooked. I read this in a few hours (and it only took that long because I had to go to work). This is a good mix of themes from Clowes' other books and the sci-fi story was helped along by his strange art. He does a great job mixing hyper-realism, bright colors, and gritty subject matter/characters. I'd recommend this to someone looking for a great overview of Clowe's storytelling and art.
I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block
Review: 4 / 5I've had this book for years, but put off reading it because of the title. I love Francesca Lia Block books and haven't read one in quite a while. It was nice to get back into her world (and I'm thankful I took a break - I read too many in a row). Usually her LA is like a dream world - even if dark things happen under the surface. In this story, the darkness was always there and LA not so dreamy. Mab was an interesting addition and I liked how she did/did not appear to others. I was able to finish this book in one evening, so it obviously held my interest.
Summerlost by Ally Condie
Review: 5 / 5
Such a great book and fast read. At first, I was so against every setup: "ugh I don't want to read about this!" "Don't get a job!" etc... But a page later I'd forget my complaints. Just so good. I would have liked this when I was 12, too. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good, summer read.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Review: 4.5 / 5
Review: 4.5 / 5
At first, I was skeptical. Why on earth was Curtis Sittenfeld writing a Pride and Prejudice knock-off? I've read three of her books, so I know she's good. And even if sometimes I don't love her characters, I always tear through her books.
One of my favorite sub-genres (or whatever you want to call it) is P&P retellings, so I've become a partial expert. And lately, the stories were getting stale or outright ruined the characters Austen created. (Death Comes to Pemberley wins as the worst fanfiction written by a respectable author ever.... Oh wait never mind, that honor goes to Longbourn; where they managed to ruin Mr. Bennet AND make Wickham way too creepy.) As you can see, I had some doubts going in.
While it's not perfect, I flew through the book in less than a day. I finished it as soon as I possibly could. Liz Bennet is great - flaws and all - and I enjoyed this version of Darcy. I laughed as each character was introduced and each time the plot aligned with P&P I was delighted. Of course, the author had to change some things to make it more modern and cut out some side characters/plots, but I thought the changes suited the story. Again, it wasn't flawless, but it held my attention and I think it's a great update to the classic. I could have probably done without the final chapter (or at least she could have moved it), but I think that was probably Sittenfeld's cool girl commentary.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Review 4.5–5 / 5
This novel had an overall happier tone vs. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (my favorite) and I am extremely thankful for that. Yes, there is tragedy, but it wasn't non-stop suffering. Bathsheba is a great female lead, Oak is the reliable friend/confidant you'd love to have, and Troy and Boldwood were welcome additions to the drama. There were also great townie characters, a beautiful setting, and plenty of farm drama. Pretty much everything you'd expect from Hardy.
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