Friday Five for the week of November 17, 2014

friday Collage

Fave five tweets to end the week!

Kids Books with Characters of Color via @commonsense – Since it is my goal to make diverse book choices, it only makes sense to apply the same conscientiousness to what I pick for my kids.

Is “likeability” only an issue if the character is female? via @melvillehouse – This is a topic that recently came to my attention reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I like a well-developed female anti-hero as much as a male one, but do believe the female character would probably draw more attention (and criticism). What do you think?

Read 50 Pages Before Deciding to Drop a Book via @Lifehacker – I typically use  the 50 page rule, although sometimes I’m so deep into a book I don’t love and finish it anyway groaning the whole time.

Classic Authors’ British Houses On Google Maps via @ShortList – Fun for some posthumous stalking.

Deep Style: Margaret Atwood via @FlareFashion – Curated by Sheila Heti, I really enjoyed looking at these photos. Happy birthday, Margaret!

For more of my tweets, follow me @ebookclassics!

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

glory

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

THE STORY
Glory O’Brien is graduating from high school and while her peers are excited for the future, she feels less than enthusiastic. She has no plans and no urge to leave the home she shares with her reclusive father. Although it has been years since her mother committed suicide, now more than ever Glory feels the pain of losing her and the questions still remain unanswered: Who was her mother? Why did she do it? Was she crazy? One night, Glory gets drunk with her best friend, Ellie, and they decide to drink a strange concoction, the contents of which I won’t disclose. As a result, Glory and Ellie gain the ability to “see” things when they look into people’s eyes. For Ellie, she can see snapshots of the present. For Glory, she can see their past and future, including the complete collapse of society as we know it. In the future, women are persecuted, cast out of society and forced to survive in the wild or enslaved to breed.

THE GOOD
What starts out as an average story about a teenage girl dealing with change, loss and transition, rises to a whole other level with Glory’s extraordinary visions of the future and the signs that it will all come true. In as rational a manner as possible, Glory tries to make sense of what it all means and questions whether there is a point to today if there is no tomorrow. I was completely enraptured and frightened by Glory’s vision of the future for women. I put myself in her shoes and wondered what I would do in her situation.

THE BAD
I haven’t said this for awhile, but I was sad when the book ended. I don’t know if A.S. King is planning a sequel or trilogy, but I would love to see how Glory’s dystopian vision plays out. I want to know this world of civil war, extreme gender divide and the underground movement Glory leads against the new world order.

CONCLUSION
Although I have focused on the dystopian elements of the story, Glory O’Brien also explores themes of self-identity as it relates to physical beauty, genetics and relationships. Not unfamiliar territory for a teenager, but I appreciated Glory’s maturity and droll observations on the subjects. Overall, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is sharp and intelligent, sad but hopeful. I laughed because so many reviewers said, “This book is weird!” The book was very unique and unlike anything else I have read this year; so exactly my kind of weird.

4/5 Stars

I think I want to read more YA in the future. What do you suggest I read?

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

sleepy

I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Dewey’s 24 Hour Marathon and at around 70 ebook pages was a nice, short read.

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

THE GOOD
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is told in a nostalgic, folk tale tone, I felt like I was a little kid again at story time anticipating what was going to happen next. It was the perfect story for the beautiful Fall day I read it on before heading off to the pumpkin farm with my family.

THE BAD
The ending leaves readers hanging as to what exactly happened to poor Ichabod Crane, but after some time I grew to appreciate how this added an extra layer of mystery to the story.

CONCLUSION
When I was kid, I always looked forward to watching the Disney cartoon of the story, but this was my first time reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The book has wonderful atmosphere, spooky imagery and subtle humour. I highly recommend reading it around Halloween when the leaves are falling and the air is beginning to chill.

4/5 Stars

crane

Ichabod Crane

 

Nonfiction November 2014 – Become the Expert – Shakespeare

nonfictionnov

Nonfiction November has been amazing for picking up book recommendations and it’s only the second week! This week is hosted by Leslie at Regular Rumination and the topic is Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert which I love because I never would have thought about this otherwise.

BECOME THE EXPERT – SHAKESPEARE

I love the Bard, but realized while I have watched many of his plays and movie adaptations of his plays, I haven’t necessarily gained true insight into what makes Shakespeare a genius. I put together a list of books I think might help me become more of an expert.

shakespeare Collage

How to Read Shakespeare by Nicholas Royle – Even though I love his plays, I have a heck of time reading Shakespeare because the dialogue is so hard for me to grasp. Described as a personal master class, this seems like a good way of addressing my shortcoming.

How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen MarcheEsquire columnist, Stephen Marche’s book appeals to the pop culture lover in me as it talks about how Shakespeare permeates our everyday lives.

Shakespeare by Michael J. Cummings – A definitive guide that analyzes all of the plays and poems of Shakespeare, as well as answers all of the questions we have about his work.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson – Since there are hundreds of Shakespeare biographies out there, I thought I might as well start with Bryson since he’s such a popular nonfiction writer. Does anyone have any other recommendations?

A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare edited by Dympna Callaghan – Nineteen essays by women address the importance of Shakespeare to feminism and feminist issues.

Have you read any of these books or have suggestions? How is your Nonfiction November going?

Certainty by Victor Bevine

certainty

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

THE STORY
Set at the end of the World War I, Certainty is based on real life events that took place in Newport, Rhode Island when twenty-five thousand navy officers living in cramped conditions and with nothing to do start causing mischief in town. One of the commanding officers recruits men for a secret mission to lure and gather evidence against other officers who have been identified as homosexuals. When the group accuses the local clergyman, Samuel Kent, of making sexual advances against young officers, William Bartlett, a local attorney with deep roots in the community agrees to defend Kent even though he has no trial experience. Although he thinks homosexuality is an abomination, Bartlett is wholeheartedly convinced that Kent is a good man and it is this unwavering belief that compels him to put his reputation and career at stake to clear Kent’s name.

THE GOOD
The themes of justice and equality, and determining what is morally right and wrong are nothing new, but still resonate so strongly when you think of how we are still struggling with these issues today. The characters in Certainty seemed stereotypical to me — the inexperienced but driven lawyer, the saintly priest, the bad boy gone good — yet are the saving grace in this fairly predictable story. Sometimes you just need clear-cut heroes to root for.

THE BAD
Victor Bevine has explained that Certainty began as a script before he transformed it into a novel and the story very much reads like a made for television movie. However, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing if the story is absorbing.

CONCLUSION
Certainty not only looks at discrimination against gay men during this time period, but also touches on the dramatic changes taking place in the United States following the end of the war, such as the advent of Prohibition and the women’s suffrage movement which I found very interesting. Ultimately, I’ve always enjoyed the suspense of a good courtroom drama and Certainty provides plenty of gasps and thrills. The outcome may have been a little predictable, but it was still a satisfying read.

3.5/5 Stars

Certainty by Victor Bevine is currently on tour with TLC Book Tours and I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.