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Search tags: 2016-back-to-the-classics-challenge-nr
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review 2016-02-01 21:36
And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

Part of the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016, hosted by Books & Chocolate, for Category #2: 20th Century Classic (≥1965).

 

This is going to be a pretty short review, as I really don't have much to say about it. I enjoyed it immensely and am now hooked on Christie's works--this was the first one I'd read, and now I want to read all her books. The plot for this is one that I adore, because even if it becomes overused, there's still SO much you can do with it to make it unique, or to add twists that haven't been used before.

 

This was a relatively short read, and I finished it in two days, but I actually may have read it too fast... I probably missed some aspects of the story that may have been important to cluing in on who the killer was. I actually thought about taking notes on everyone and seeing who was where when (at least based on what Christie wrote), and see if I could figure it out from there. But I opted not to, and just enjoy the ride. And while I did enjoy it, there was just some dynamic that was missing for me. I'm not sure what it was. Although the killer certainly was not obvious, I was still expecting some major reveal at the end, and while there was that, it still wasn't as OMG WAAAT!??! as I had hoped.

 

Despite that, I really did enjoy the story, and will certainly want to revisit it again later, to see if I can figure it all out now that I know who-dun-it!

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review 2016-01-18 19:50
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

Part of the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016, hosted by Books & Chocolate, for Category #1: 19th Century Classic.

 

I am amazingly glad that I did not have to read any Dickens for school, because that would have turned me off from classics in a millisecond. Fortunately, buddy reading this with a friend egged me on to finish the damn thing (ironic, had this been for school, I likely would have dnf'd it). And I'm glad I did, since the last third or so was quite good in terms of plot and characterization... but with many, many caveats...

 

The style of prose is UGH, NO, SHUT UP AND JUST TELL THE DAMN STORY CHARLES. Just because this is a classic, doesn't mean that I have to force myself to enjoy it and lull myself into a false sense of "omg, Dickens's style is dynamic and amazing!" Perhaps if I had I would have gotten more out of it, but that's just not my style--classic or not, if the prose doesn't captivate me in the first few pages, I have little hope for making it to the end.

 

The style just felt so.... anachronistic, and seemed more tailored and written in the American style of the time, rather than the British/European style (which I love). The American style is one that I hate deeply--I found myself comparing the writing of Tale to Cooper's Last of the Mohicans, which I had a very similar love-hate relationship with (the last third of that was excellent, but the style was terrible).

 

I couldn't get it out of my mind that Dickens was intentionally writing this in a more Americanized style to make this a hit in the States--and it must have worked, because it was apparently the most popular of his works in America.

 

Dickens's symbolism was also painfully obvious. He didn't try to hide the metaphors under other metaphors, or create any doubt that certain things weren't necessarily symbols, but just things that were discussed in detail as symbolistic red herrings. Everything was just OBVIOUS, there was no mystery to any of the symbols and it just made it almost juvenile in the way that Dickens assumed readers wouldn't be able to draw the parallels themselves.

 

He is also obsessed with foreheads... he focuses solely on many character's expressions through their foreheads, rather than through full facial or body expression. It's weird.

 

For all of the things I didn't like about this book (oh, did I mention that half the time it was never clear who was talking?) the overall plot of the story was quite interesting, and there were some fun characters. Not to mention Madame Defarge's knitting, which, as a knitter, was one of the main reasons I had to stick it out--it's practically canon to at least read the knitting parts. And the relationships (both romantic and friend/ally ones) forged between many of the main characters were actually ones I could get behind,

especially the switchero-sacrifice at the end.

(spoiler show)

 

In the end, I am glad I stuck it out and finished it, but at the same time, this was a bad first impression for me, and I'm not at all enthusiastic to start any of Dickens' other works that I have on my to-read list (The Old Curiosity Shop, Pickwick Papers, and the ultimate tome of Bleak House) (as a side note, if any of these are an antithesis to Tale's style, please let me know in the comments!!)

 

Honestly, I think I would have gotten more out of it had I just watched a Masterpiece version of this...

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text 2015-12-30 21:34
Back to the Classics Challenge: (Tentative) List of Books

I think I've gotten most of my possible reads for the Back to the Classics Challenge (hosted by Books and Chocolate) decided upon... although there are some categories in which I know that may end up being changed as my book moods change throughout the year. Regardless, I figured I'd post this now, and can then compare at the end of the year!

 

1) A 19th-century Classic: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

2) A 20th-century Classic: And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

3) A Classic Written By a Woman: Song of the Lark, Willa Cather

4) A Classic in Translation: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

5) A Classic by a Non-White Author: The Art of War, Sun Tzu

6) An Adventure Classic: 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Jules Verne (a reread, but I've honestly forgotten most of it, aside from general plot)

7) A Sci-fi/Fantasy/Dystopian Classic: War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells

8) A Classic with a Detective MC: Fantômas, Marcel Allain

9) A Classic with a Place Name in the Title: Either Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea or Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

10) A Banned/Challenged Classic: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll (another reread, but a very different version [the annotated one])

11) A Reread of a Classic from HS/College: Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

12) A Collection of Classic Shorts (8+): Either J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories or H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

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text 2015-12-07 21:32
2016 Back to the Classics Challenge Signups!

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yy6CAU1FA4k/VkAbt31h1wI/AAAAAAAAETo/TQPBpXMQW2s/s320/BackToTheClassics2016.jpg

Sign ups for The Back to the Classics Challenge are up! I was disappointed that I stumbled across this years challenge so late, so I was determined to make sure I signed up for 2016 :) Can't wait to get started, I'm already working on a possible list of books that will apply!

 

Thanks to Books and Chocolate for hosting this! It's my first group challenge, and I'm excited to take part :)

 

Click the picture above to sign up!

 

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