Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks who the most frustrating characters in literature are. I know I’ve wanted to shake all of these people at some point.

  1. Father Ralph de Briccasart from The Thorn Birds. He could have been really happy with Meggie, but his ambition to rise in the Church was more important than anything else.
  2. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. I think Stradlater said it best when he said, “Shut up, Holden.”
  3. Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights. Oh, come on. Horrible, manipulative snot. Plays on the affections of both men who love her and drove one to vengeful madness.
  4. Willa Alden from The Wild Rose. Quit being a jerk and accept that Seamus loves you. He doesn’t care about your leg.
  5. Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. Can you dial back the impetuosity? You are ruining everyone’s lives.
  6. Pip from Great Expectations. Estella does not deserve you. Quit obsessing over her. She’s horrible.
  7. Lady Bertram from Mansfield Park. Did she get off her butt once in that novel? Because I can’t remember that she did.
  8. Lia in Wintergirls. EAT.
  9. Achilles in The Iliad. Get out of the #$%&@ tent and go fight. Hector thinks Paris is a tool, but he still stands up for his country. Hector deserves more credit. If he had been Greek instead of Trojan, he’d have had it.
  10. Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. As Starbuck says, “To be enraged with a dumb brute that acted out of blind instinct is blasphemous.” Unfortunately, Ahab doesn’t listen to him, and everyone on the ship, excepting Ishmael, of course, is killed.

Honorable mentions go to Sir Walter Eliot of Persuasion, who values all the wrong things in life; Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, who sticks with an abusive (albeit hot, especially as played by Marlon Brando) guy who rapes her sister (for crying out loud!); Ennis Del Mar of “Brokeback Mountain,” who can’t let go of his self-hatred and allow himself to be happy with Jack Twist; Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby, who is just awful; Guinevere and Lancelot in all their iterations because they just ruin everything; Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for being an ass and playing around with a man’s life for sport; Hamlet from Hamlet, who dithers for most of the play and then kills some of the wrong people; and finally, the doctor from The Boxcar Children—why on earth did he not call DFCS when he found out those kids were living in a boxcar? That’s nuts!

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Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Books for People Who Like X

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Oooh, I haven’t participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a while, and even though it’s technically Thursday, this one looks like too much fun to pass up. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books for People Who like ______. I’ve been unpacking my books, and I’ve been thinking about the connections among my different reads. My husband made the remark today that we have a lot of good books, and we really shouldn’t need to go to the bookstore in a while given how many great books we have. He’s right.

  1. If you like the [amazon asin=0545162076&text=Harry Potter] books, you should try Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series: [amazon asin=0142001805&text=The Eyre Affair], [amazon asin=0142004030&text=Lost in a Good Book], [amazon asin=0143034359&text=The Well of Lost Plots], [amazon asin=014303541X&text=Something Rotten], [amazon asin=0143113569&text=Thursday Next: First Among Sequels], [amazon asin=0143120514&text=One of Our Thursdays is Missing], and joining the ranks in October, [amazon asin=067002502X&text=The Woman Who Died A Lot]. Jasper Fforde’s series is hilarious bookish fun, and even has a few references to the Harry Potter series.
  2. If you like Emily Brontë’s classic [amazon asin=0143105434&text=Wuthering Heights], you will enjoy Sharyn McCrumb’s historical fiction retelling of the infamous Tom Dooley case, [amazon asin=0312558171&text=The Ballad of Tom Dooley]. McCrumb herself has described the novel as Wuthering Heights in the Appalachians, and it’s true. The story’s characters greatly resemble their counterparts in Wuthering Heights in many ways. I loved it.
  3. If you liked [amazon asin=143918271X&text=A Moveable Feast] or [amazon asin=0743297334&text=The Sun Also Rises] by Ernest Hemingway, try Paula McLain’s excellent novel [amazon asin=0345521307&text=The Paris Wife] for Hadley’s side of the story. One of the best books I read last year. Highly recommended.
  4. If you liked [amazon asin=0143106155&text=Jane Eyre] by Charlotte Brontë, you will enjoy an updated retelling of the story, [amazon asin=0062064223&text=The Flight of Gemma Hardy] by Margot Livesey. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.
  5. If you liked Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon asin=0440423201&text=Outlander] series, try Jennifer Donnelly’s Tea Rose series, beginning with [amazon asin=0312378025&text=The Tea Rose]. [amazon asin=1401307469&text=The Winter Rose] and [amazon asin=1401307477&text=The Wild Rose] round out the series, but the first one is the best one.
  6. If you liked [amazon asin=161382310X&text=Moby Dick], or even if you only sort of liked it because it got bogged down in cetology, but you liked the good parts, you will love [amazon asin=0061767654&text=Ahab’s Wife]. Oh.My.Gosh. One of my favorite books ever. Sena Jeter Naslund’s novel introduces the amazing persona of Una, wife of Captain Ahab, from one line in which Ahab mentions her in Moby Dick, and she’s one of the most incredible fictional people you’ll ever meet. I love her. She is one of my fictional best friends.
  7. If you liked [amazon asin=0316038377&text=Twilight], but you wished you could read about grown-ups, and you wanted less purple prose and better writing, try Deborah Harkness’s [amazon asin=0143119680&text=A Discovery of Witches], the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second book, [amazon asin=0670023485&text=Shadow of Night], comes out in about a week. You will like Matthew much better than Edward. Trust me.
  8. If you liked [amazon asin=0143105426&text=Pride and Prejudice] and [amazon asin=0486295559&text=Persuasion] by Jane Austen, and you are a little unsure of all those Austen sequels, try out Syrie James’s fictionalized what-if? novel [amazon asin=0061341428&text=The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen] that wonders aloud whether or not Aunt Jane had a real romance that inspired her great books.
  9. If you liked Suzanne Collins’s thrilling [amazon asin=0545265355&text=Hunger Games series], you will enjoy Veronica Roth’s [amazon asin=0062024035&text=Divergent] and its sequel [amazon asin=0062024043&text=Insurgent]. Not sure when the next book in the trilogy comes out, but I can’t wait. Her books are amazing. They will remind you of The Hunger Games without feeling anything at all like a ripoff.
  10. If you liked [amazon asin=0486415864&text=Great Expectations] and [amazon asin=1612930999&text=The Turn of the Screw], you will love John Harwood’s [amazon asin=B000I5YUJE&text=The Ghost Writer]. The book makes several allusions to both novels, but it also contains four complete short stories within the text of the novel (written by the protagonist’s grandmother), and it’s set in a creepy house with a secret.

Bonus: If you like Victorian novels period, and you want to read a love letter to the Victorian novel, or if you like Daphne Du Maurier’s [amazon asin=0380730405&text=Rebecca], try Diane Setterfield’s [amazon asin=0743298039&text=The Thirteenth Tale].

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments. Just because my husband says we have a load of good books doesn’t mean I’m not always looking for more.

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Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays—August 29, 2011

Musing MondaysThis week’s Musing Mondays asks…

What was the last book you…
• borrowed from the library?
• bought?
• cried over?
• disliked and couldn’t finish?
• read & loved?
• got for review? (or: got in the mail?)
• gave to someone else?
• stayed up too late reading?

Ah, now these are excellent questions. I honestly can’t remember the last book I myself checked out of the library. I haven’t been in over a year. I helped Maggie check out some books on the Salem Witch Trials, I think, but I can’t recall getting anything for myself that time.

The last book I bought was probably [amazon_link id=”0439139600″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire[/amazon_link] because we could not find our copy. We are always reading those to death anyway. I think some of the books in that series are on their third copy.

The last book I cried over was [amazon_link id=”1565125606″ target=”_blank” ]Water for Elephants[/amazon_link] (review). I just loved that book, and parts of it were so sad.

The last book I disliked and couldn’t finish…hmmm….I want to say that was [amazon_link id=”0758254083″ target=”_blank” ]Wuthering Bites[/amazon_link], which made me sad because 1) it was a gift, and 2) I love [amazon_link id=”0143105434″ target=”_blank” ]Wuthering Heights[/amazon_link] and would like to believe I have a sense of humor about parodies of works I love, but this one just did not grab me. I don’t think I made it into chapter 2.

The last book I read and loved was [amazon_link id=”0451202503″ target=”_blank” ]The Songcatcher[/amazon_link] (review) by Sharyn McCrumb. I really, really liked [amazon_link id=”0451197399″ target=”_blank” ]The Ballad of Frankie Silver[/amazon_link] (review), perhaps even loved it, but if we’re talking it-went-on-my-list-of-favorites love, then that was The Songcatcher.

The last book I got for review that I actually have reviewed was [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link] (review). I have some other review copies in my TBR pile (or on NetGalley, which amounts to the same thing).

Does PaperBackSwap count as giving a book to someone else? I’m going to say it does, in which case I mailed copies of [amazon_link id=”0061579289″ target=”_blank” ]Adam & Eve[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”039592720X” target=”_blank” ]Interpreter of Maladies[/amazon_link] on the same day, which was August 24. Giving a book as a gift, it was probably Christmas. I gave books to the kids and a [amazon_link id=”B002FQJT3Q” target=”_blank” ]Kindle[/amazon_link] to Steve.

The last time I stayed up too late reading was probably…oh, shoot…I do this so much during the summer that it’s hard to keep track. I am going to say it was with Jennifer Donnelly’s “Rose” trilogy: [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link], and the aforementioned The Wild Rose. I ate those books up with a spoon.

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WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—July 13, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I just started reading Sarah Addison Allen’s first novel, [amazon_link id=”055338483X” target=”_blank” ]Garden Spells[/amazon_link], which I obtained through PaperBackSwap. I am enjoying it as much as I did [amazon_link id=”0553807226″ target=”_blank” ]The Peach Keeper[/amazon_link] so far. I’m convinced I just don’t read paperbacks as fast I read Kindle books, though. I have a nonfiction book going on my Kindle—[amazon_link id=”1439170916″ target=”_blank” ]The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer[/amazon_link] by Siddhartha Mukherjee. So far, it’s fascinating. It reads almost like a thriller novel, or at least the first five percent has done so. Mukherjee described how leukemia was discovered and treated many years ago. I can already tell it will be a five-star read only a few chapters in.

I recently finished Jennifer Donnelly’s “Rose” trilogy: [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link] (review), [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link] (review), and [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link] (review). Very enjoyable reading, and I discovered that Jenners read them, too, and you can read her review, too.

I think next I’ll read Sarah Addison Allen’s [amazon_link id=”0553384848″ target=”_blank” ]The Sugar Queen[/amazon_link], which I also obtained from PaperBackSwap. Aside from that book, I’m not sure. I have a few interesting books coming via PaperBackSwap: [amazon_link id=”0452289661″ target=”_blank” ]Burning Bright[/amazon_link] by Tracy Chevalier, [amazon_link id=”B000V5WH7S” target=”_blank” ]All the King’s Men[/amazon_link] by Robert Penn Warren (which I am reading for my challenge), and [amazon_link id=”1400031702″ target=”_blank” ]The Secret History[/amazon_link] by Donna Tartt. I might want to save the Tartt for the R.I.P. Challenge—would it fit, anyone who has read it? I am thinking I probably will save Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs for the R.I.P. Challenge, much as I want to read it now.

What about you? What are you reading?

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The Wild Rose, Jennifer Donnelly

[amazon_image id=”1401301045″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Wild Rose[/amazon_image]The third and final book in Jennifer Donnelly’s “Rose” trilogy, [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link] follows the story of Seamus Finnegan, younger brother of Fiona (focus of [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link]) and Charlie/Sid (focus of [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link]), and Willa Alden, Seamie’s childhood friend, climbing partner, and soulmate. In The Winter Rose, Willa lost her leg while climbing Kilimanjaro with Seamie, and the accident tore them apart. The Wild Rose begins as Willa has relocated to Tibet, living in the shadow of Everest, taking pictures for a planned book about the mountain, and guiding other mountaineers for money. Seamie, meanwhile, meets a young teacher named Jennie Wilcott and marries her, trying to forget about Willa. Donnelly’s familiar cast of characters all make an appearance: Fiona is now a suffragette and Joe has continued serving as MP. Their fierce daughter Katie has started a newspaper and has set her sights on a career in politics. Charlie/Sid and India have settled in Point Reyes, California, but return to England after the mysterious death of India’s sister, Maud. Meanwhile, Max von Brandt, a German spy in love with Willa and rubbing shoulders with the likes of gangster Billy Madden, makes trouble for everyone. Donnelly’s characters tramp all over the globe—Willa becomes part of T. E. Lawrence’s party in Arabia, while Seamie joins up with the navy when World War I begins.

This novel was much more Indiana Jones than your typical “romance.” Willa is hardly slowed down by having only one leg. She’s a difficult heroine—she can be selfish, and she nurses a drug addiction for most of the novel. At the same time, she’s fearless and dashingly brave. I quite liked Seamie’s wife Jennie, and I felt she certainly had the short end of the stick, as Seamie would never be able to love her as he had loved Willa, and frankly, she deserved much better. The new villain, Max von Brandt is much more layered and complicated (as all Donnelly’s characters are) in this novel.

The whole series is epic in scope and spans over 30 years. I think just about every historical event that occurs during the time period of this book (1913-1919) touches the Finnegan family. They experience World War I, the Spanish flu, and Lawrence of Arabia—and that’s just in this book, so I’m not sure what else Donnelly could have thrown at them. Like its predecessors, this book is eminently readable, but not without its problems. I did catch some continuity errors (Joe’s age near the end of the novel, for instance), but those may be corrected in the final publication, as I read a galley copy. Like its predecessors, The Wild Rose is just a really big book. So much happens, and the story threatens to become unwieldy at times. Donnelly does a better job keeping it all together in this book than in the other two, and even with the outlandish events that take place in this novel, it somehow seems more plausible than the others, perhaps because the characters are much more “gray” than black or white. Willa is a more interesting heroine than India. I can’t say I liked her as much as I liked Fiona, but she’s complex. The series is definitely worth a read. It certainly kept me turning the pages and staying up way too late to find out how the characters would emerge from the latest trap they’d fallen into. I definitely think romantic historical fiction fans would love this series, and I would recommend it for fans of Diana Gabaldon or [amazon_link id=”0061990477″ target=”_blank” ]The Thorn Birds[/amazon_link].

Rating: ★★★★½

Full disclosure: I received a free galley copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The Wild Rose is available in stores on August 2, 2011.

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WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—July 6, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am reading the second novel in Jennifer Donnelly’s trilogy, [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link]. I am enjoying it so far. Not as many of the plot points turn on coincidence (which was a weakness of [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link]), so it has more of an air of plausibility. It’s still fun, but I like the characters profiled in the first book better.

I did just recently finish The Tea Rose (review). I also recently finished Dexter Palmer’s [amazon_link id=”B003A7I2PU” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link] (review). Really enjoyed the former, but not the latter.

The next book I plan to read is [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link], the third and final installment of Donnelly’s trilogy. I have a galley copy on my Kindle. After that one, I’m not sure what will be next. Maybe Sarah Addison Allen’s [amazon_link id=”0553384848″ target=”_blank” ]The Sugar Queen[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”055338483X” target=”_blank” ]Garden Spells[/amazon_link], which are on their way to me courtesy of PaperBackSwap.

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WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”B003A7I2PU” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link], and frankly, I’m not liking it much. It has a few interesting moments (so far), but I am not finding the characters interesting or likable. The plot is weird. I am still reading it for two reasons 1) I have had it on my Kindle for a long time, and I bought it, so I feel compelled to read it; 2) I can’t get any new books right now, and the ones on my to-read list that I’m itching to read most are books I don’t have.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”0553807226″ target=”_blank” ]The Peach Keeper[/amazon_link] by Sarah Addison Allen (review) and [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain (review), both of which were amazing books. It could be that The Dream of Perpetual Motion is suffering by comparison.

The next books I really want to read are Jennifer Donnelly’s [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link], and [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link]. The Wild Rose hasn’t been released yet, but I scored a copy at NetGalley, and I would like to read the other two first, as I understand it’s a sort of generational saga. I loved Jennifer Donnelly’s [amazon_link id=”B003F3PN0Q” target=”_blank” ]Revolution[/amazon_link] (review). It’s the best book I’ve read this year.

Yesterday’s post about websites and apps proved lucrative for me because I learned about NetGalley and PaperBackSwap from the post by The Broke and the Bookish. I know—where have I been and all of that. You can see my PaperBackSwap profile here, and feel free to friend me. I’m going to check out the posts by some of the other participants and see what other great book websites and apps I might have been missing out on.

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Friday Finds

Friday Finds—June 24, 2011

Friday FindsI found a lot of interesting books this week! My department chair recommended Jennifer Donnelly’s [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link], which happens to be the first in a trilogy—the other two books are [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link]. I can’t wait to read these books.

Amazon sent me a mailer recommending some historical fiction that looks interesting. [amazon_link id=”0312144075″ target=”_blank” ]The Samurai’s Garden[/amazon_link] by Gail Tsukiyama has over four stars on Goodreads after thousands of ratings. That looks promising, even if some of my Goodreads friends didn’t care for it. A reviewer said of [amazon_link id=”B004VD3XQU” target=”_blank” ]The Lotus Eaters[/amazon_link] by Tatjana Soli that if you’ve never read a book about the Vietnam War, this is a good one to start with. Sounds good to me. Alan Brennert’s [amazon_link id=”0312304358″ target=”_blank” ]Moloka’i[/amazon_link] is about the leper colony in Hawaii and also has a high rating on Goodreads.

I can’t decide if [amazon_link id=”1599952025″ target=”_blank” ]The Yellow House[/amazon_link] by Patricia Falvey us up my alley or not. It’s set in Northern Ireland during the Revolutionary period, and I would like to read more about that time, but it also features a main character torn between an Irish political activist working to help Ireland achieve independence from Britain and the black sheep son of a wealthy Quaker family that owns the mill where she works. It reminds me a bit of the scenario presented in all those teen historical romances published by Sunfire in the 1980’s. The girl almost always chose the guy who was more rebellious and dangerous. The only exception I can think of is in the novel [amazon_link id=”0590331566″ target=”_blank” ]Danielle (Sunfire, No 4)[/amazon_link]. I quit reading the novels after a while because they were too predictable—even if I did learn a lot about history from them. In fact, I probably have them to thank for my love for historical fiction. I need to write a Life in Books post about those novels soon. I am suddenly overcome by a wave of nostalgia.

After reading [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain (review), I sought out [amazon_link id=”143918271X” target=”_blank” ]A Moveable Feast[/amazon_link] and discovered a newly restored edition published in 2009. I am interested to read it after reading the story of the Paris years from Hadley’s point of view.

Browsing around on Goodreads for books set in Paris, I found [amazon_link id=”1596914254″ target=”_blank” ]Paris: The Secret History[/amazon_link] by Andrew Hussey. It’s not about Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. It’s more about the prostitutes, street urchins, opium addicts, and artists. Looks really good.

[amazon_image id=”0312378025″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Tea Rose: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1401307469″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1401301045″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0312144075″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Samurai’s Garden: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”B004VD3XQU” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Lotus Eaters: A Novel (Reading Group Gold)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0312304358″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Moloka’i[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”1599952025″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Yellow House: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”143918271X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1596914254″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Paris: The Secret History[/amazon_image]

So did you find any good books this week?

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