Category Archives: Classic Literature

The oldie but goodie

Book Review: The Penelopiad

Book: The Penelopiad

Author: Margaret Atwood

Recommend: Definitely worth a read, especially if you had to suffer through The Iliad and The Odyssey in high school.

Okay, I am a fan of Greek mythology. I find it oddly fascinating that people could believe in this set of self-absorbed petty gods who thought it was fun to mess with the people they ruled over and who had limitations. I found their attitude towards women  appalling in the way you find a train-wreck appalling – so horrible but yet you simply can’t look away.

Due to these factors I couldn’t help but add this book to my bag when I discovered it at the library. I have only read one of Atwood’s other books but I found her writing wonderful to read and that’s saying something considering I started with The Handmaid’s Tale. This book tells the story of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus who went missing for twenty years. She fended off suitors by the truckload and managed to stay true to him over twenty years. Never mind the fact that he was cheating on her every time he had the opportunity.

I found the character quite fascinating in this telling of the story, although slightly inconsistent in the center due to her passivity towards her household while her mother-in-law was alive. I loved the interjections from the author of almost sheer random wanderings on the topic. It broke up the story in an interesting way and get me to think about it from a myriad of perspectives.

Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of Greek mythology.

Final Rating:

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Filed under Classic Literature, general fiction, historical fiction, Review

Book Review: That Hideous Strength

Book: That Hideous Strength

Author: C.S. Lewis

Recommend: This feels very different from the first two. I think the only people who are going to like this one are die-hard Lewis fans.

After the first two books, I was expecting another planet and another strange experience. What I got was a conflict on earth between two different groups, trying to control the world. In the middle of the mess is a married couple, one on each side of the conflict. Ransom makes his appearance again, this time as a Pendragon, with the appearance of Merlin. This twist of plot felt very much like he had been spending far too much time with his friend Tolkien and had lost his science fiction focus.

I think the problem with this series in general, and the reason it is not more popular is that Lewis spends far too much time on philosophy and too little time on the action. The impact of the action is lost within the rhetoric. While I typically enjoy Lewis and his writing, this trilogy just wasn’t an engaging read for me.

Final Rating:

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Filed under Christian, Classic Literature, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Recommend: It is a very powerful read but not for the faint of heart.

Imagine a society where women are not allowed to read, work or drive. Imagine a society where everyone is desperate for a child and women who could bear children were given to childless families in order for children to be conceived. Imagine being one of those women who were shunned by society and had little to no contact with the outside world. They were completely unloved and pulled away from everything they knew.

This makes me think of the poor women in extremist Muslim countries who are going through the same thing right now. They have lost all their liberty. Doctors who can no longer work, let alone be out in public without an escort. Women who have to hide themselves away from the world anytime they step into it.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it is quickly applied to any Christian. They seem to forget that the women’s movement came from Christianity. Christianity was the one originally responsible for it. While I think our society has taken it too far and corrupted it into women are better than men and can do anything a man can do only better, I don’t know a single Christian who doesn’t think that women should have equality and I know some pretty extreme Christians.

I think it was a great book, I just don’t like when a great book gets turned into a weapon. That being said, this one will be joining my shelves as soon as possible.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

 

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Filed under Classic Literature, general fiction, mature themes and subject matter, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Book Review: Out of the Silent Planet

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Book: Out of the Silent Planet

Author: C.S. Lewis

Recommend: If you are a fan of older science fiction or enjoy the work of C.S. Lewis, you’ll enjoy this book, the start of a trilogy.

I’ve read a lot of C.S. Lewis in my time. I have heard many songs that quote this series. I can’t even remember how long these books have been on my to-read list. Finally, I got my hands on all three of them for free and started in with book one. I was expecting something similar to his other works and wasn’t disappointed.

Ransom is walking through the British countryside, trying to find a place to spend the night when he happens upon an old college acquaintance who drugs him and places him on a space ship taking him to Mars where he evades his captors and makes his own journey through the planet, meeting the various intelligent life forms there.

This is definitely a different style of writing than what I usually read. It was interesting but I wanted to connect with the characters more than I did. This was all about discovering a new place, not about getting to know someone, which just isn’t my favorite kind of reading. I definitely will be reading the next two books but I don’t see this series ever coming close to my love for some of his other books like The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, or The Chronicles of Narnia.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Jane Slayre

Book: Jane Slayre

Author: Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin

Recommend: Definitely! Especially for fans Jane Eyre.

I am a huge fan of the original version of this book, Jane Eyre. It has always had a spooky quality that appealed to me. When I saw this on the shelves I simply had to read it. After tackling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I was a bit apprehensive but dived in any way. I am glad that I did.

The author nearly seamlessly incorporates vampires, zombies and werewolves into the original story of an orphan who is employed as a governess to the ward of a man with a secret. For some reason the idea of Jane being a vampire hunter was not odd to me. She did so out of necessity, not because she wanted to. In places where the story deviated from the original tale, the wording was so well done that I could almost swear it had been penned by Miss Bronte herself.

The only fault I could find with the book was the voodoo controlled zombies hiding under the guise of Christianity. No self-respecting bokor would have mixed Christianity with voodoo. It was the only point of the story that felt just a bit weak to me. I understand the author’s motivation behind the decision but it just didn’t quite flow as well as the rest of the book did.

Overall, this was a great read and fit with the spooky feeling that the original tale already had, adding to the story in a memorable way. I think this one is going to have to become part of my collection. I definitely see a desire to reread this version again soon.

Final Rating:

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Filed under 2012, Classic Literature, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Summer book challenge, thriller/horror

Book Review: Rebecca

Book: Rebecca

Author: Daphne Du Maurier

Recommend: If you are a fan of the Bronte sisters and like a good mystery.

Have you ever had a book that you were just plain curious about? I’ve heard about this one. Had it in my hands more than once and never got around to picking it up and reading it. I wished I had found this one sooner.

This book tells the story of a young woman who has her first job out of school, working as a companion to a wealthy older woman. She meets a man of society and falls in love with him but she is sure that he does not return her feelings. As she is ready to leave for New York, she meets him to say goodbye and he proposes to her. She accepts his proposal but as soon as the honeymoon is over she finds herself in the shadow of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca.

I don’t want to ruin the plot for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but it has one of the best plot twists I have ever read! I can see how many have tried to imitate this writer in one way or another in modern material and none of it quite does this justice. Definitely worth the time and something I have a feeling I’ll be downloading onto my nook soon.

Final Rating:

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Filed under 2012, Classic Literature, mystery, Review, romance, Summer book challenge

Decided to rent the movie after reading the story

Button Button or The Box

Book: The Box

Author: Richard Matheson

Recommend: If you are a Matheson fan or like short stories.

I got this book at the used bookstore and took it with me to work out this evening. I finished it in two hours. This book is a collection of short works by Mr. Matheson. I am a big Matheson fan having read Somewhere in Time. I have also seen most of the movies based on his work. I plan to at least read What Dreams May Come but I am not sure about I am Legend .

The book starts with the story “Button, Button,” the basis for the movie The Box. I can see why they made this into a movie. I felt like there was a lot more to the story that what Matheson decided to give us.

Definitely an interesting and fast read. Worth taking a short time to read.

 

Final Rating:

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