Off the Shelf 2012

Apparently I am feeling really chatty.

Anyway, I have decided to join the “Off the Shelf” book challenge again this year! It is one of my favorites ever, and I hope to meet my goal of completing 15 books!

Click the picture to sign up and join me on this endeavor!

 Books I own that I am hoping on reading:

The Picture of Dorian Gray (READ!!)
Breaking Free
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
The Secret Life of Bees
Mysterious Benedict Society (book 1)
Liar Society (READ!!)
The Eleventh Plaugue
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
Belong to Me
This is Where I Leave You
City of Glass
Villette
The Four Feathers
The Space Between Us
Never Let Me Go (
READ!!)
The Bermudez Triangle (READ!!)
The Emotionally Healthy Church
A Little Wanting Song (READ!!) and reviewed

(last edited 11/10/2012)


Of course, I may choose to read books off of this list. I may write reviews for some, if not all, of these books. If I do I will link up the reviews, if I don’t I will just link it up to Goodreads so you can read other reviews. Good luck in your reading ambitions!!

Review: Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Published 1912
My edition:
2006 Barnes and Noble Classics

Photo from Goodreads.com

So this is Tarzan!  I haven’t actually seen the Disney Tarzan or George of the Jungle, so I can’t tell you how accurate it is.  In fact, I don’t even know if Jane and Tarzan end up in the movie or not (I do in the book though, now!!).  The story is basically the same though (from what I know):  Boy grows up in a jungle!

That’s what the book is pretty much about, Tarzan being raised by apes and slowly learning to be a human.  I really liked reading this because I could mark Tarzan’s learning to be a man process.  “Tarzan learned the use of his thumbs!”  “Tarzan figured out how to use a door!”  A lot of my enjoyment of the book came from his development.

Other joys came from how surprisingly sad this story becomes.  The ending is a little heartbreaking,  but I liked it because Tarzan didn’t have everything he wants in the end.  One of my qualms is how Tarzan pretty much becomes PERFECT.  He’s got the looks, the ability to kill a lion, money, the smarts, “high class blood”… the list goes on!  And alright, he doesn’t have too many people in this world, but he has that ability to create his own family.  Maybe I’m being a little harsh on him.  But anyway, the point is there IS some balance.

What’s kind of neat is you can totally tell this book is written in the early 1900s.  Tarzan’s jungle is set in Africa, and Edgar’s own ignorance of the African people shows through.  Pretty much the black Africans are viewed as an entirely different race of people– barbaric and foolish as opposed to whites.  That part is not neat.  What is neat is how this book adds to history– it’s a testament to some of the streams of thinking in early 1900s.  While it by no means sums up that entire time period, it does add a little paint to the picture.  Also, the whole idea of being born with a higher class blood was prominent in this book, which is a concept that is not considered main stream today (at least as far as I know!).  Tarzan was able to be so great because he was a higher make of human due to his bloodline.

While there were quite a few ideas that made me go “seriously?” (see above) there were a few other things that I liked and got me thinking.  Like the differences between what separates man and “animal”.  Edgar Rice Burroughs says it’s reason, and there are quite a few examples he gives.

Also, how much of who you are is due to your environment or your genetic make up?  And a big one, what’s the difference between killing and murder?

There was one passage that I first marked because I like the last half of the last line, but it kind of shows you a little bit of the type of person Tarzan is and a little bit of that idea between killing versus murder.  Here it is:

“The face above [Jane] was one of extraordinary beauty.  A perfect type of the strongly masculine, unmarred by dissipation, or brutal or degrading passions.  For, though Tarzan of the Apes was a killer of men and of beasts, he killed as the hunter kills, dispassionately, except on those rare occasions when he had killed for hate–though not the brooding, malevolent hate which marks the features of its own with hideous lines.  When Tarzan killed he more often smiled than scowled, and smiles are the foundation of beauty.” (168)

Isn’t that neat?  Smiles are the foundation of beauty!  Woohoo :)

So anyway, this marks the third book I’ve read for the Off the Shelf challenge!  (You can see my posting about the challenge HERE).  I’m super glad that I’m finally reading these books I own and especially a lot of the older literature I have.  It’s nice to be pushing myself to be reading things that challenge me.

Some business:  I’ll be in TEXAS for a week with my sister, so I’m not sure yet what this will mean for this website this coming week (I’m not even sure if I’m bringing my computer yet).  Maybe I’ll just have to turn this into a Texas travel blog for the week :-)  Or maybe I’ll be taking a little break.  Either way!  Read great things!

 

Review: The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale

Published May 2005
Bloomsbury USA

She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate.

Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale’s likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm.

Photo and Summary from Goodreads.com

So as I mentioned in my last post, this book is fantastic.  Since it is an adaption of a Grimm fairy tale it has that interesting mix of purity and reality that fairy tales often have in them making it out to be a sweet, thoughtful story.  I’m really disappointed in myself because I’ve had this book on my shelf for a few years, but for some reason haven’t gotten to it.  Thank goodness for the “off the shelf” challenge I’m doing!

1.  There is an essence of abilities in here which I love.  Some people have the ability to persuade people with words, other people (such as our MC Ani here) have the ability to converse with animals.  There is a stigma however (which is soooo realistic.  There are stigmas with everything, which is kind of stupid) that some abilities are more terrible than others (like Ani’s :( ) and thus our poor lass doesn’t fit in well.  This makes it super sad for her, but also makes a good overall story arch.

2.  Because of the aforementioned problem of not being able to fit in, Ani also has a problem understanding what her place is and what she is capable of.  It’s wonderful to really see how Ani finds her voice and purpose and starts to realize what she wants and should do.

3.  The writing is very magical.  Not like “I’m gonna talk about magic tricks and wizards!!!” kind of magic, just it really made me think of the power in seemingly ordinary things.

4.  The characters pretty much won.  Ani’s relationship with her mother was completely confusing– it seems her mother is a flat black and white charcter, but there are little hints of something more going on with her.  Maybe!  See, after reading this I still don’t even know for sure if the woman is a jerk, nice, or in between.  Also, I really liked Ani.  She doesn’t have everything figured out and it’s really neat watching her do so.  Plus, even though she claims and acts as if she is a weaker girl than she is, the strength in her is very evident.  Plus, every other character was great.  There were some bumfaces and there were some absolutely darling people– but all of them were very humanized.

5.  I also can say I’m 100% pleased with how everything was resolved.  Maybe it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for and planned for in the beginning (there was a certain moment that COMPLETELY BROKE MY HEART OH MY GOSH), but I left this book with no qualms with what Shannon Hale did.

Ultimate Review: Perfect read for people who like adventurous coming of age books that are fantastically written with wonderful characters!
Where I Got This Book: This book was given to me by my friend Kay for my birthday a few years ago.  She absolutely loved it and told me I would too- she was right!

Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Orczy

first published 1905
this edition published Aug 1995
by Barnes and Noble Classics
Classic

In the year 1792, Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite Blakeney are the darlings of British society—he is known as one of the wealthiest men in England and a dimwit;she is French, a stunning former actress, and “the cleverest woman in Europe”—and they find themselves at the center of a deadly political intrigue. The Reign of Terror controls France, and every day aristocrats in Paris fall victim to Madame la Guillotine. Only one man can rescue them—the Scarlet Pimpernel—a master of disguises who leaves a calling card bearing only a signature red flower. As the fascinating connection between the Blakeneys and this mysterious hero is revealed, they are forced to choose between love and loyalty in order to avoid the French agent Chauvelin, who relentlessly hunts the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Photo from here, Summary from Goodreads.com

Classics are always a challenge for me regardless of how good they are.  For me I have to push through the first 60 or so pages until I unlock the key to that book and then I’m able to read the rest of it with ease.  This is one of the reasons why I LOVE the “Off The Shelf” challenge; it’s pushing me to read books I own but keep throwing aside because of that initial 60 page challenge.  Thanks to that (and my New Years Resolution) I FINALLY read The Scarlet Pimpernel.  It was great.

1.  What I really liked about it was it was pure story.  There wasn’t a 20 page dialogue about why this political group stinks.  It was just action after action with some historical class issues thrown in the mix.  Okay, a lot of historical class issues since the book has a lot to do with aristocrats getting their heads chopped off.  Our madame guillotine makes an appearence.

2.  Along with the action there is mystery to it!  Who is the Scarlet Pimpernel?!?!?!?!?!  Trust no one!  I had a ton of fun guessing who it is, and when you do find out you’re all “OH OH OH!!!”

3.  And with all good stories there’s passion and romance and l-o-v-e!  It doesn’t get so excessive, but it is cute.

4.  The overall plot is really neat.  According to Goodreads this paved the way for Zorro and “the masked avenger” archetype.  There definitely is a lot of adventure in this book (you could even call it swash-buckling!).

5.  I looovvveedd getting to know these characters.  The main ones really grew close to my heart.  It was neat learning more about them and watching them grow.  Oh, and Sir Percy totally makes me want to start driving my horse and carriage around at night (if I had one that is…)

Ultimate Review: I was impressed and pleased.  I feel like this novel is soooo underrated.  I only heard about this book because my sister bought it for me, and I feel like so many people are missing out!
How many days it took me to get past chapter 1: 20.  I technically started it near the beginning of the month, but didn’t buckle down to read it until the end.  Oops!

Book Adventures in 2011

3/15

I have decided to take part in my first book challenge!  It’s Jamie Loves Ya‘s Off the Shelf challenge where you try to read books you own but haven’t read yet starting January 1st and ending December 31st.  I’m going for the “Trying” level where you read 15 books.  You can read more about it here if you’d like!

I’ll be keeping track of my progress in this post.

Books Read:

  1. The Scarlet Pimpernel
  2. The Goose Girl
  3. Tarzan of the Apes