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review 2016-12-27 00:42
#CBR8 Book 125: Greven av Monte Christo (The Count of Monte Cristo) by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

Young sailor Edmond Dantés is well-meaning, kind and really rather naive, wanting nothing more than to make enough money to take care of his elderly father and marry his beloved Mercedes. There are other, less well-meaning people in his life who want what he has and are prepared to frame Dantés for treason to get these things. While celebrating his engagement to Mercedes, Dantés is arrested, charged with aiding in a plot to restore the exiled Napoleon to the throne. The anonymous scheming may have come to nought, except a letter in Dantés' possession frames the father of the judge who hears his case, and said man decides that the best thing to do is burn the letter, and lock Dantés away, before the precious judge is implicated in the scandal. So thanks to a drunken, malicious prank and an unscrupulous judge, Dantés is locked up away in a dark dungeon for fourteen years, where he nearly goes mad, while his father dies alone and destitute and his Mercedes marries another.

Dantés probably would have lost his mind if not for the friendship with another prisoner, the Abbot Feria, who, when trying to dig an escape tunnel, instead ends up in Dantés' cell. The two strike up a friendship and Feria, a very learned man, teaches the fairly inexperienced sailor everything he knows. He listens patiently to Dantés' story of how he ended up being imprisoned, and explains exactly how he will have ended up being framed, turning Dantés' thoughts immediately to escape and revenge. Initially, the two are planning to escape the prison together. But the Abbott is old and sick and dies before they have a chance to get out. He tells Dantés of a great treasure, hidden away on the island of Monte Cristo. Once Dantés escapes, he goes there, and discovers riches beyond his wildest dreams. After fourteen years, with everyone who ever knew him believing him long dead, Dantés can start truly plotting his revenge.

Ten years after the escape, the mysterious and brooding Count of Monte Cristo appears in Paris and soon the lives of three prosperous and successful gentlemen start falling apart completely.

I'm convinced that it is more than twenty years since I first read this book, when I was still young and patient and felt that the longer the book, the better, frankly (this was back when I also happily read my mother's three volume edition of Les Misérables in about four days while stuck at my gran's in the west of Norway, a book I only got about a third of the way through once I tried re-reading it a few years back. To be fair, this was a time long before wifi and smart phones, the only thing to do when in the west of Norway was to read. What else was I going to do, hang out with my douchy cousins, or worse yet, my little brother?) When the Cannonball Book Club poll for Classics ended up picking the LONGEST book of all of the ones nominated (I want to point out that I picked The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - at a neat 350 pages), it wasn't like I had a choice but to read the book, and I certainly wasn't going to opt for some abridged version. That would be cheating. This is also why this book will now forever be known to me as the book that ate November.

I actually started it in mid-October, but it became really obvious that as long as I was allowing myself to read other books as well, I was just never going to get through the nearly thousand pages of 19th Century French adventure fiction. Hence the only books I finished in November except this, were the ones I listened to in audio. In the end, I completed the book on November 30th, the day before our book club discussion. The Norwegian translation I read was done in the 1950s, but was thankfully not too difficult to get into, once I got used to some of the more old-fashioned terms. The first third or so, until Dantés finally escapes prison and goes to the island to find the treasure, moves along at a fair clip and is quite exciting. The problem came when he returns after ten years, and Dumas spends a lot of time re-establishing all the characters (who obviously no longer go by the same names they did at the beginning of the book, that would be far too easy) and setting the stage for Dantés' truly masterful revenge scenario. Once the book really gets going on that, it's all pretty thrilling, right up until the end.

It's not for nothing that this is known as one of the great revenge stories of all time. It was also, obviously written in a time when books like this, sold in instalments, were the big network entertainments of their day. Over the course of eighteen months, people would only get sixty pages at a time. That's a long time to wait to see how Dantés deals out righteous vengeance on the guys who did him wrong and made themselves rich and successful thanks in part to his misfortune. I wish I could say that I read it, considering where the instalment breaks would have been and fully aware of how the entertainments of our day have changed (all points covered in our excellent book club discussion), but I totally didn't. I mainly just forced myself through it, in between correcting a LOT of essays and audio book listening, wanting to get through the early Paris sections, where I had to use Wikipedia to help me keep track of the names of all the various parties, their many family members and how exactly they were soap operaishly connected to one another through double dealing, scheming and adultery, so I could understand everything fully once the Count's plan really kicked into gear.

While I don't love it as much as I did when I was a teenager, it's still a great book and for a book written in the mid-19th Century, it has an interestingly varied portrayal of both male and female characters. I was especially excited to see that Dumas apparently thought nothing of having Eugénie Danglars, the daughter of one of the men who wronged Dantés, escape the whole sorry revenge plot by running off with her companion on what I'm assuming will be one heck of a lesbian bohemian adventure. Valentine Villefort, one of the other prominent ladies, is so good and kind and true she makes your teeth hurt, but a lot of the other ladies, not least Mercedes, Dantés' lost love, are very impressive in their own right, this is not just a book about dudes.

While I was initially despairing, as it felt like that my November was pretty much this and correction work, I'm very glad that the Book Club pick did end up being this book, so that I got a chance to finally re-read it. I'd kept telling myself I was going to, and then never getting round to it, because it's sooo long. I also have plans to watch the TV adaptation starring Richard Chamberlain (clearly the go-to actor for Dumas adaptations in the 1970s - as well as playing Dantés, he was Aramis in the Musketeers movies directed by Richard Lester and he also starred in the dual role in The Man with the Iron Mask), but as New Year's is rapidly approaching, I needed to get these reviews completed - no time to watch movies before I blog. I honestly don't know what the abridged versions of the novel leave out, it seemed to me that once you with hindsight can see what is being set up, even the parts of the novel that dragged while reading them were really quite important. I would therefore recommend that you allow yourself the time to read the full version if you try the book. It's worth the effort, I promise.

Judging a book by its cover: For years and years and years, I've been a member of what is called the Norwegian Book Club, which is more of a subscription service for books than an actual club where people get together to read the same book every month and discuss it. It should also be noted that because a) Norwegian hardback books are terribly expensive and b) I barely ever read Norwegian books, I automatically cancel the books of the month every single time. I get the e-mail, I go to the website, I cancel the books. Very occasionally, i use the accompanying website to buy presents for people. All of this is to explain that my two volume edition of Greven av Monte Christo (which is the Norwegian name for the book) is one that I got when I became a member many many years ago, and the cover is nothing very exciting. A silhouette of a man. The background on volume one is dark blue, the background on volume two is golden yellow. Apart from that, they are identical.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-125-greven-av-monte-christo.html
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review 2016-09-19 12:30
MOBY-DICK; or THE WHALE by Herman Melville

 

MOBY-DICK; or THE WHALE
by Herman Melville
 
'Read Classic', an occasional series of posts on 
Kitchentablewriters.blogspot.com
 

 

 
 
A friend gave me my copy of Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville as a gift, around 15 years ago. It measures 6 1⁄2” by 4” by 1 1⁄2” with 798 gold-edged wafer-thin pages and 135 chapters, a ‘Collector’s Library’ edition, ‘complete and unabridged’.
 
When I first tried to read it, I got bored quickly. I was 150 pages in and they’d only just gone aboard The Pequod – 200 pages in and we still hadn’t met Ahab…
 
Steadily, I read less, until the little golden book was forgotten.
 
Then my reading group, bless them, decided that we should all read a different 19th century American work. I pulled out Moby-Dick, blew off its dust and started again.
 
Maybe I was in a different place, a different reading mindset. But instantly, I loved it. I dove into the rich, warming narrative – words that go on and on. I swam within them as if they were fish teeming in the Pacific. I’d finished it within the four allotted weeks, and watched the 1956 film, starring Gregory Peck as Ahab, with  a screenplay by Ray Bradbury. At the meeting, I read out the passages I particularly loved…
 
And then it was, that suddenly sweeping his sickle-shaped lower jaw beneath him, Moby Dick had reaped away Ahab's leg, as a mower a blade of grass in the field.... Small reason was there to doubt, then, that ever since that almost fatal encounter, Ahab had cherished a wild vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell for that in his frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with him, not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations.
 Chapter 41, Moby Dick
 
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was born in New York in 1819 and by the age of 13 was working in a bank. At 18 he completed his education and moved from job to job; school teacher, newspaper reporter, merchant sailor. He went West to (unsuccessfully) seek his fortune. Down on his luck he set sail on a whaler bound for the South Seas, where he spent time in the company of the natives. He detailed his adventures in a series of novels which, in his own lifetime, proved continually more popular than Moby-Dick. 
 
MOBY-DICK; or THE WHALE, first appeared in 1851, when he was 32. Now, it is considered his seminal work, and having read it, I know it is a masterpiece, a gothic philosophical allegory and a scathing satire on life. 
 
It is profoundly inventive, intense and ironic, the style and language standing alongside other great experimental novels, from Tristram Shandy  to Ulysses. I loved its soaring voice, which moves from long passages of soliloquy, through pieces of script format, to sharp and dramatic dialogue
 
…“Look ye! d'ye see this Spanish ounce of gold?"- holding up a broad bright coin to the sun- "it is a sixteen dollar piece, men. D'ye see it? Mr. Starbuck, hand me yon top-maul."
While the mate was getting the hammer, Ahab, without speaking, was slowly rubbing the gold piece against the skirts of his jacket, as if to heighten its lustre, and without using any words was meanwhile lowly humming to himself, producing a sound so strangely muffled and inarticulate that it seemed the mechanical humming of the wheels of his vitality in him.
Receiving the top-maul from Starbuck, he advanced towards the main-mast with the hammer uplifted in one hand, exhibiting the gold with the other, and with a high raised voice exclaiming: "Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke- look ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!"
"Huzza! huzza!" cried the seamen, as with swinging tarpaulins they hailed the act of nailing the gold to the mast.
"It's a white whale, I say," resumed Ahab, as he threw down the topmaul: "a white whale. Skin your eyes for him, men; look sharp for white water; if ye see but a bubble, sing out."
All this while Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queequeg had looked on with even more intense interest and surprise than the rest, and at the mention of the wrinkled brow and crooked jaw they had started as if each was separately touched by some specific recollection.
"Captain Ahab," said Tashtego, "that white whale must be the same that some call Moby Dick.” 
Chapter 36, The Quarter-Deck.
 






Most of the information between the pages is now anachronistic and almost forgotten, but I was fascinated by how  whale blubber was rendered down on board into barrels of oil – how the first steak from a kill would be eaten ceremoniously. And yet, counterpointing all the minutiae and trivia, the ways of Moby Dick remain unknown. Melville (and Ishmael) are sure upon that; the white whale is like God in his Heaven, which makes Ahab a fool for trying to find and outdo him. The result, of course, is futile…and fatal.
 
The book teems with ideas, imagery and emotion, but between these subtleties lie those hard facts.  Melville makes use of his first-hand descriptions of whaling alongside an encyclopaedic knowledge of the nature of the whale…
 
The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem schools. Like a mob of young collegians, they are full of fight, fun, and wickedness, tumbling round the world at such a reckless, rollicking rate, that no prudent underwriter would insure them any more than he would a riotous lad at Yale or Harvard. They soon relinquish this turbulence though, and when about three-fourths grown, break up, and separately go about in quest of settlements, that is, harems.
Another point of difference between the male and female schools is still more characteristic of the sexes. Say you strike a Forty-barrel-bull- poor devil! all his comrades quit him. But strike a member of the harem school, and her companions swim around her with every token of concern, sometimes lingering so near her and so long, as themselves to fall a prey.
Chapter 88, Schools and Schoolmasters
 
The book is chocked with symbolic motifs which develop and inform the text’s major themes, and I enjoyed spotting them. The first one is the colour white, which Ishmael, finds threatening; white waves albinos, whale spout…
 
It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude: on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the bow. Lit up by the moon, it looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea…
Chapter 51, The Spirit-Spout
 
Then there is the coffin, which symbolizes life and death. When Ishmael’s friend, the harpooner Queequeg, falls ill, he asks the carpenter to build him a coffin, but survives and stores his belongings in it. When the Pequod sinks, the coffin becomes Ishmael’s lifeboat.
 
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.
Chapter 1, Loomings 
 
And the themes themselves are grand. Like the heroes of Greek or Shakespearean tragedy, Ahab suffers from a single fatal flaw. He is obsessed, monomaniacal, believing that, like a god, he will remain immune to the forces of nature while pursuing the White Whale…it’s his inescapable fate to destroy this evil.
 
The Pequod represents the world…its crew, all of humanity’s fears, frailties and faiths are acted out. It is a symbol of doom, painted black and covered in whale teeth and bones, mementos of their violent death. The name was taken from a Native American tribe made extinct by the white invaders. 

 

But despite the wanderings of both book and ship, there is a plot, and it uses causality, something I love in a story. From the beginning, Ishmael notes Ahab’s eccentricity and madness getting worse, until, The Pequod encounters the whaling ship Rachel, imploring help to search for the missing whaling-crew, including the captain's son. But as soon as Ahab learns that the crew disappeared while tangling with Moby-Dick he refuses the call to aid – something unheard of in whaling tradition – and goes off to hunt the White Whale. After The Pequod goes down, Ishmael, in his coffin, is ironically rescued by the Rachel which has continued to search for its missing crew.
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review 2016-07-24 09:27
If I Could Turn Back Time
If I Could Turn Back Time: A Novel - Beth Harbison

By: Beth Harbison

ISBN: 9781250043818
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  7/28/2015 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Beth Harbison delivers a poignant and witty story of a woman’s journey back to the past, IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME, coming in paperback June 14, 2016 (with a new 83/18 cupcakes adorable cover). Readers will go back to revisit their younger years, for a thought- provoking look at the people in our lives, choices, and questions, of what if.

“Sometimes – some rare times—when a soul has left in its own time, it leaves a love one wholly unprepared. Missing some of the most important lessons that were meant to be shared.”

“Can a soul find it’ way back to communicate in a less subtle way? To remind their loved one of those things they must know in order to find their own fate."

The night before Ramie Phillips; thirty-eighth birthday, she is on a boat (yacht) off the coast of Miami, Florida-- like something you would see on the cover of Conde’ Nast Traveleror other luxury magazine.

She did not grow up rich, In her youth she enjoyed a happy Charlie Brown landscaped middle class life in Potomac, Maryland, close to the DC border. She grew up loving math and her dad was a banker. When she was five her dad taught her about the stock market and how to track a portfolio. He taught her how to invest.

Thanks to her dad, she had a nice little nest egg for herself before she hit it big working with Whitestone, one of the top private equity investment firms in the country.

A daddy’s girl, her Dad died unexpectedly halfway through her college education. He smoked three packs of cigarettes a day, then a stroke. She thought he would be around forever and in her life. He was to be a grand dad. Her mom had always feared his upcoming death. Her mom had a hard time; however, Ramie came through for her investing her life insurance so she could live off the dividends.

Skip to the boating event, as the book opens, with champagne, cocktails, friends and a little too much to drink. Her friend just found out she is pregnant. Here she is, close to forty years old and now she is feeling sorry for herself. Her big birthday bash, had been overshadowed by toasts and congratulations for Lisa’s unexpected pregnancy.

What happened in her life from ages eighteen to thirty-eight?

She knows she is feeling like a baby. Beings selfish. Could she have known her previous partner in crime (herself) might feel a little weird about being ambushed by the news of her total acquiescence to domestication. She knew her friend would never be fun anymore. She tells her she is happy and begins to dwell on her situation. She has a nice life and career, but no personal life. She is not happy. She had been left behind. She had made mistakes.

Soon she dives off the boat and all she remembers is pain, and everything going black.

She wakes up in her childhood room. Dream or not, this was a moment in her life where she would get a second chance, with someone she had loved and lost. However, she is trying to talk about things in the future and her dad is of course still alive. Her mom thinks she is getting ready to go to school.

Now she finds herself back in time to the eve of her eighteenth birthday. Will she be able to change her decisions, and get what she wants from the past for her future?

Harbison always combines wit, emotion, and some tough life lessons. We all wish we could have a redo; and regret many things in our past, and questions of "what if" we had made a different decision, or choices back when,--- how would my life be different today. A journey of a thirty-eight year-old woman with her insight into the future and in her current role as age eighteen.

Thought-provoking! Makes you take a step back and appreciate those in your life. For Fans of In Twenty Years and The Year We Turned Forty as well as time traveling. I am normally not a fan of time travel; however this one was done really well.

For all you wondering why I am just now reviewing this book. I read it last year, and realized when reading an advanced reading copy of her upcoming new book, One Less Problem Without You, (great read), Coming July 26, 2016, was referring back to link to the review, and discovered I failed to write the review. (my bad)!

Quickly did a recap, since still on my Kindle, and even purchased the audiobook, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy for a fun time-travel trip. Guess my review, will be “timely for the paperback”, coming June.

I do not read as much chick-lit, as I did in my younger years; however, always enjoy Harbison’s books. She was initially the one to turn me on to the genre with her funny audiobooks. Always tons of fun, wit, and humor-and much more than fluff –there is depth, life, emotions, and so much more!

On a different note: Would like to take this opportunity to highlight St. Martin’s Press and compliment the team on all the beautiful covers! The Beth Harbison name is branded by her covers, and each and every one pulls you in to her character’s world. They are perfect. A cover can make, or break a book in my opinion, and all St. Martin’s Press’ covers are first-class- one of my favorite publishers.

 

  

Coming in Paperback

June 14, 2016 

If I Could Turn Back Time

Buy the Book 

 

Told with Beth Harbison's wit and warmth, If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, "If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd do things so differently...

 

 

Coming July 26, 2016 

One Less Problem Without You 

Buy the Book 

 

Be sure and move, One Less Problem Without You to the top of your list! (just finished it and "promise" to write my review before Tues. pub date). You will love the Cosmo chic cover, the three gals whose lives connect, a bad guy, teas, and "Diana’s Drinks" with 30-yummy cocktail recipes at the end of the book. Need I say more?

 

 

On a personal note: I think I was meant to go back and re-read this book. Makes you think of your parents. This week received the news my mom (some of you know she has battled cancer for 3 ½ yrs.) -now her body is shutting down, with less than a few months left to live. All of her many friends are saying their goodbyes, and I will be returning home, within the next couple of weeks, from South Florida to NC to spend some time with her and the family. This will be a difficult time- and not sure what lies ahead, as my dad depends on her for everything (they just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary), and his health is poor as well.

This is when we all want "more time", and regrets for all the time we have wasted. As she mentioned this week, even though she has known she has stage IV cancer for years, she kept thinking she was going to beat it, and she would have "more time." Now there is none. This book brought back some special memories and times with my mom, as a teen.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!If-I-Could-Turn-Back-Time/cmoa/555e276f0cf2adc1ad4cf26b
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review 2016-07-19 09:17
Review: Ride Steady
Ride Steady (Chaos) - Kristen Ashley

1st read - 10 July to 12 July 2015 (4.5 Stars)
2nd read - 15 July to 19 July 2016 (5 stars)

__________________________

"As the sun rose in the Denver sky, both of us got it at the same time, together on the back of Joker's bike.

 

We were free."

 

"She was golden. Nothing beat her. She smiled through pain and made you believe it."

 

Ladies and gents I have a new favourite KA alpha and his name in Carson 'Joker' Steele and he may well be in the running to overtake Tack and Tate. Thems fighting words I know but let me 'splain.

 

So he has all the usual alpha awesome, such as:

 

Tortured soul? Check
Badass? Check
Uber hotness? Check
Loyal? Check

 

But Joker has some added awesomeness. He is the very opposite of an alphahole. He can admit when he has done wrong (this is probably the most shocking thing of all) he has a mouth like a sailor but he actually listens to Carissa and tries not to curse in front of Travis (actually this is also shocking) he cooks and helps look after Travis and doesn't make some ultra misogynistic remark about how both those things are a women's job and he will do manly things like putting up shelves and bursting heads together and the like. Joker is reasonable and when Carissa gets a wild hair (which is also shockingly rare) he doesn't go off and one and fuck it up.

 

Carissa is also a rarity as in she was not too stupid to live. And barring one situation, which was actually not her fault and more the fault of some past too stupid to live heroines, she listens to Joker and takes his wishes on board. She was up front and took total responsibility for any mistakes she made and while she could be sassy and give Joker whats for (because he deserved it) she didn't hold a grudge and moved on.

I LOVED these two together. They were adorable.

 

Now I cried a fair amount throughout this but I am blaming sinus medication as I'm sure it couldn't possibly be that sad. There are some epic feelz though and very little action. My only complaint is actually the lack of action. This is a KA without a kidnapping or a shooting or a stabbing of a main character. A bit disappointing as I like the over the top, this is ridiculous action in her books. But it was seriously sweet and as I mentioned feelzy.

 

"Who would have thought my Carson Steele would catch butterflies."

 


I would also strongly encourage you to read the dedication before you start reading this book. She does something that was very sweet and a lovely gift. I also blame this for a lot of my sniffling like a loon throughout reading it.

 

I can't wait for the next Chaos, between this series and the Magdalene series I'm really excited about Kristen Ashley books again. If the next 'Burg one is as good as this I will be ecstatic.

 

Another awesome romance that takes place in this is the bromance between the brothers. I love Chaos and of course I adore Tack. He seems to have mellowed has Tack and it's not a bad thing. He is a great leader and he takes care of his own. I admit to falling a little bit more in love with him in this.

 

"They will not take her boy, and the time to fuck with Carissa Teodoro is now over."

 

Joker's voice was a quiet growl when he stated, "You know you got my love, brother."

 

"I do," Tack returned. "And it's a privilege, Carson."

 

 

What was actually very tiresome was the attempt to mention EVERY past Denver based character. I mean even Knight got a mention. It was kind of overkill to be honest and there was no need for that many to appear. But all in all I loved it and I feel the KA of old is back!! ROCK ON!!!

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text 2016-07-15 15:52
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
Ride Steady (Chaos) - Kristen Ashley

 

I'm finding it way weird and kind of cool that I'm rereading the first 3 books in this series and Motorcycle Man around the same date as I originally read them without planning it that way. Between 9 to 15 July 2013 and the same for this one the same time last year!!

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