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text 2019-11-25 21:40
World Philosophy Day
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation - Seamus Heaney,Anonymous
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne,Nina Baym,Thomas E. Connolly
Far from the Madding Crowd (Signet Classics) - Thomas Hardy,Suzanne Keen

World Philosophy Day

Door 9:  World Philosophy Day

 

Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?

 

You all have been following me for how long now? I DNF. I also post reviews about why I DNFed and what percentage or page number too. I find those reviews helpful and wish more reviewers did it. I get why many don't though. You have to worry about a rampaging author sicking their followers on you nowadays.

 

I have tried to start DNFing books around 20 percent or so if I am not feeling it. There was that one time I DNFed a book 5 pages in, but I am sorry, you could not pay me to read "Far from the Madding Crowd". Some word set me off and that was it for me. 

 

Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?

 

Well I tried to find the lat time I posted about how I rated books, but realized that disappeared during my great exodus from BL after my reviews all got messed up. I do have a template I try to follow when reviewing and also rating a book. I try to always do a quick summary up front of the things that worked/didn't work for me in the book. Then I did a short description of the book/characters/overall plot.

 

From there I dissect the book by characters (developed well or no? did the characters action make sense from what came before? Was it too information dumped driven for me to get certain characters?, etc.).


I next look at writing and flow. Writing is definitely subjective. However, I get annoyed at too much purple prose or overly descriptive writing. Just tell me what's going on and don't try to describe every blade of glass a character is seeing. Flow matters because sometimes chapters don't flow neatly into one another. It gets worse sometimes when an author is jumping around to multiple POVs.

 

The setting is important to talk about too. I like to say where it takes place, or a time period if it's especially important in the context of the book. Sometimes though I don't comment on this if it didn't move me one way or another.

The last part is the ending. Did the author stick the landing? Did they just throw out some crap and hope you were okay with it? Looking at you "Girl on the Train." 

 

So for me, this is how I rate:

 

5 stars (favorite): This means I would re-read this book again. That the characters, writing, flow, setting, ending all worked very well. That even if something was slightly off, I let it go to enjoy the book since so many other elements just kicked butt. 

 

4 stars: Still a really good book, but I often give books that missed something too much for me to enjoy. The big thing I start to focus on between 4 and 5 stars is that is there something that gnaws at me enough that I know I will slowly over time get annoyed if I re-read this book? If so, you are getting four stars. 

 

3 stars: A solid book. Not bad, just enough things that didn't work for me to go off and rave about it. It's okay if a book is 3 stars. 

 

2 stars: Not horrible, but enough problematic things going on that would have me hesitant to read the author again unless I saw reviews from others that showed me the book in question was good.

 

1 star: Nope. 

 

DNF: I usually 1 star these. It flat out just means I could not finish the book because either the characters, writing, etc. was too much for me to get pass. I call it, my brain got angry and I had to stop. 

 

Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?

 

I read. Seriously. I am trying to whittle down how many books I want to read during my break (starting Wednesday) and while in Honduras. Oh and I watch a lot of Christmas related movies. Not on Lifetime! I just love the cartoons. My total secret shame. I maybe re-watched "A Mickey Christmas Carol" this past weekend 10 times. And then Lady & the Tramp about 30 times (cough it was around 50). I ended up just decorating my house on Sunday cause I am just ready to move pass the terribleness and move into the season of hope and joy. I also work out and go hiking a lot during stressful periods. I finally worked out on Sunday after a week of not working out and my body may be sore, but I slept like a log. Nothing makes me feel rested like working out the day/evening before bed. 

 

Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?

 

I think for the most part I did love the books I read during school. I just wish they had been more diverse. We tended to not read any African American authors except during Black History Mouth. Stares at school systems in America as a whole. And forget reading authors from other countries. Actually, I want a do-over to this. I think the books were inadequate, but okay to read. I didn't hate them (I got to read Beowulf every freaking year during my high school English classes) but things started to get a little stale since we tended to read the same authors over and over again.

 

The ones that stand out the most are:

 

"Great Expectations." I still can't get over how much I wanted to shake Pip. We got the two endings to the book and we had to discuss the one we preferred. I preferred everyone dying off miserably cause they all kind of sucked, but I was fascinated by that book from beginning to end. 

 

"Of Mice and Men." That book from beginning to end depresses the life out of me. I just want them to start over somewhere else. That's it. Goes off to sob into a pillow.

 

"Beowulf." Not kidding. We always started off with this story during high school. I even did a group book report on it. I get it's supposed to show off the style of an Old English epic poem and all that jazz, but reading it once was enough. 

 

"Lord of the Flies." Yeesh. I got nothing to add here. I think I reviewed this.

 

"The Scarlet Letter." I got in trouble for asking what the big deal with with Hester having sex outside of her marriage. FYI, I got in trouble a lot during Sunday School. Fun times. 

 

Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing

your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kobo, etc.).

 

[X]

 

Tasks Completed: 4

 

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review 2019-11-19 19:23
Chrystal, the Newest of Women (by an Exponent)
Chrystal: the Newest of Women - Exponent

The question was not, Why had she been born? - the answer to that came simply enough; she had been born in consequence of the satisfying of her parents' instincts. The question was, What had she been born for? Finding herself in the world, a new person who had never lived before, but who was obliged to live then, she had wanted to know what was to be the purport of her existence. Mrs. Yorke had pointed her to motherhood; she had said nothing about men and women's love.... But Chrystal could answer the question for herself now. It is the cultivation of all the faculties that makes a human being complete.The passions, the affections, the physical, mental, and moral powers, must all be exercised. She had children, two acquaintances, books, and active enjoyment, but she could not be content. The New Woman wanted the New Man.

 

As a manifesto from 1896, that's not bad - there's little here that a modern woman, let alone a modern feminist, would quarrel with. The sequence of events that the anonymous "Exponent" has chosen to illustrate her manifesto is a bit more questionable: it smacks of too much selfishness, as even the sympathetic reviewer in The University Magazine and Free Review of 1897 felt bound to point out. Chrystal enters (albeit consentingly) into a more or less arranged marriage with a man who has poor health, and bears a sickly child by him. Admittedly she does not abandon the child, but she does abandon the man; she then has an affair with a man she does not love, in order to have a healthy child, whom she quite obviously favours over the first; finally, she finds a man philosophically aligned with her, and marries him for love and has a third, and most favoured child by him. The trouble is, in carrying out this highly mechanical demonstration of the steps of enlightenment in adjusting the relations between the sexes, the author manages to create a heroine who is at best unlikeable and at worst inhuman. It's a tricky business, when arguing against a social order that demands women submerge their own needs and desires in unselfish service to everyone else, to find the point at which self-assertion becomes mere selfishness, and this author, alas, didn't quite land on it. Chrystal's Progress, like that of the Pilgrim, is not the story of a real human being, but a series of scenes illustrating philosophical points.

 

Still, it's a fascinating document of its time. I found the title in the University of Toronto Libary catalogue, and read it (in a scan of that library's copy) on the Internet Archive.

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review 2019-11-19 17:06
The Canadian Girl, or the Pirate of the Lakes: A Story of the Affections (attrib. to Mary E. Bennett)
The Canadian girl; or, The pirate of the... The Canadian girl; or, The pirate of the lakes; a story of the affections - Authoress of Jews daughter

This is an enjoyably bad oddity, a romance fiction set in Upper Canada, obviously by an English author who gleaned her knowledge entirely from reading. It is confidently ascribed in various sources to the almost completely unknown Mary E. Bennett, who was sister to a publisher. The date given to the work on the copy I read (the University of Toronto, Robarts library copy) is suspiciously early, given that the only other edition available dates from 1870, and "The Jew's Daughter" referenced on the pictorial title page ("by the author of") is actually dated 1839 in some sources. Hard to say - there is no reference to confederation, and the "governor" introduced has a fictitious though plausible name, Markham.

 

Though I have called it a romance fiction, the author herself appears to have had difficulty with genre classification. "To those who think that the orders of fiction should be preserved as distinct from each other as the orders of architecture, both the treatment and design of this work will give great offence. It is not strictly a domestic or a sentimental story, neither is it an humorous or a fashionable story; nor does it claim kindred with any decided school whatever, but partakes, perhaps, of all." Actually, the structure is pretty much standard romance fiction, but it runs into some difficulties because the hero, Clinton, is at first set up as a dissolute villain who seduces an innocent damsel (named, of course, Lucy). That being the case, even when the husband of the woman he loves, Lady Hester, conveniently offs himself, he cannot be allowed a happy ending, but has to meet an untimely and entirely out-of-the blue end based on a forgotten incident from 700 pages before: his sins find him out, as it were. None of these people is the "Canadian Girl" of the title. That honour goes to Clinton's sister, Jane - that's a spoiler, sorry - a rather pallid character who ends up paired with Lucy's similarly pallid brother to provide the happy ending.

 

The setting of the novel is similarly conventional: there is the relative safety, and consciousness of social mores, of aristocratic or middle-class houses (even here in the New World, a pirate ends up actually being a nobleman, with a mansion to inherit, while Arthur & Lucy's father is a clergyman). Then there is the thrill of the uncivilized "out there" - and in Canada the wild can be much more wild than the woods and forests of England. Here, the author demonstrates the difficulties of building a world you're completely unfamiliar with, when the resources at hand were so very limited. It is true we get a fairly splendid if rather over-wrought description of Niagara Falls and that general region, obviously drawn from travel literature. However, our author fails miserably to populate early Ontario with the right kind of wild threats. There are, it is true, a couple of First Nations people, the Christianized kind, of course, introduced in the first chapter. But they are not presented as any kind of threat, and instead of having any ongoing presence are soon supplanted as primary woods-dwellers by a band of gypsies! By and large, the flora and fauna of these woods are also easily transferable back to the more familiar and comfortable British setting. It makes one suspect that an earlier attempt at a romance may have been grafted on to the more exotic setting, though that's entirely speculation on my part.

 

The Pirate of the Lakes, of the subtitle, is a quasi-sympathetic figure whose sins, by the end, are largely being excused by dint of introducing more villainous characters who are "worse" than him. Here is the last of several self-justifications (he has just poisoned himself to escape the gallows).

 

"But suicide is a great crime, my son," interposed the Pastor.


"I fear it is," gravely returned the Pirate. "Heaven pardon it! but still, to my mind, the circumstances of my case partially excuse the deed. I have never shed blood except in self-defence. I have not deserved a public death. Perpetual imprisonment, exile, any punishment short of death I had deserved - but not death. I did not feel bound, therefore, to render up myself to the gallows. No law of God required me to do so. Such being my view of the case, I felt at liberty to dispose of myself in the way I have. The honourable name I have inherited is hereby saved from some degradation, and yet i have suffered the full penalty of my misdeeds."

 

This is a Victorian novel. There's a lot of Protestant moralizing. Since it's set partly in English Canada and partly in French Canada, the characters are perforce split between Protestant and Catholic, and the dancing around the issue would provide some interesting fodder for those interested in the state of anti-Catholicism in England - if the publication date is indeed 1838, then the whole movement towards Catholic emancipation is still well within living memory for the readers. One character in a historical flashback (the Pirate's mother) is immured in a nunnery and treated harshly, but other than that the tone is often remarkably conciliatory towards, at least, lay Catholics.

 

The writing isn't bad; it's what you'd expect from an intelligent woman with a strong background in the products of the circulating library. It's both literate and thoughtful, in entirely derivative ways. Absurdities aside - or maybe partly because of the absurdities - I quite enjoyed reading "The Canadian Girl".

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review 2019-09-24 04:04
Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: An Anonymous Girl
An Anonymous Girl - Greer Hendricks,Sarah Pekkanen

Greer and Pekkanen show you what can happen when a test about ethics and morality goes wrong:

Jessica thinks that when she sees an ad on a clients phone looking for women aged 18-32 to be part of a ethics and morality study that it will be easy money, money that she desperately needs. When the questions starts they seem simple enough "Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?"  but as each question unfolds, Jessica feels like she is truly being tested as the questions are live to her answers. Jessica is being tested. Dr. Shields is looking for the perfect participant for her study. To push the subjects boundaries, see how far Jessica is willing to go for some extra money. And Dr. Shields motive? All in the name of science she assures you...

Alright, this book will having you thinking on more than one level and questions what you would do in each situation, not to mention the whole aspect of morals and ethics we face with each aspect of our lives (the questions of morals and ethics does get a bit tedious at times, and there were points where it kind of felt jammed down my throat, but that just may be how I read and interpreted the book). Lets just say If you like books with manipulation then this book is for you as the farther you get in its about the manipulator manipulating and then the manipulated trying to start her own manipulation (That all make sense?). All that manipulation can make your head spin, but I think that Hendricks and Pekkenan did a good job of not overcomplicating the plot with additional people and kept it mainly between Jessica and Dr. Shields. I think if there was another person that was really focused on it would bee too much. There is a bit of a mystery thrown in to the plot as well, which I appreciated as we needed something else to focus on other than Jessica going through the moral/ethical dilemmas that Dr. Shields puts her through. Plus trying to uncover Dr. Shields motives was interesting.

I really liked that it shifted between the two point of views  Jessica and Dr. Shields and I appreciated that Dr. Shield's chapters were much more clinical in how they were "voiced" as this is who she is as well as her detailing of how Jessica reacted. She was very observant to her behaviour and really took the time to know Jessica, from how she would react to her tells when she was considering what to do. It was always fascinating to see the same event from two different points of view, one that the event was happening to and the other an outsider looking in. Through Dr. Shields you really do see the power that one's mind can have and add a little authority behind it and Wow the things you can make people achieve as well as destroy.

I think my main flaw in the book as I did not feel it was a suspenseful as I wanted it to be and while I was drawn into the story it was not the suspense aspect that kept me reading. This book was much more of  in the domestic genre book category than the thriller/suspenseful one. 

This is the first book that I have read by Hendricks and Pekkenan and I found the story and how they told it different and refreshing. I will be checking out their other works.

Enjoy!!!

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I read read this book for the Psych square for Halloween Book Bingo and let me tell you this has Psych written all over it in spades as well Dr. Shields is a Psych teacher and uses her knowledge of psychology to manipulate those around her.
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text 2019-07-02 15:42
25 Historical Fiction Books
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Daughters of the Dragon - William Andrews
Go Ask Alice - Beatrice Sparks,Anonymous
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain,Guy Cardwell,John Seelye
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Jack Dawkins - Charlton Daines
London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford
Ramses: The Son of Light - Christian Jacq,Mary Feeney
Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys - Louisa May Alcott,Elaine Showalter

Okay, here goes. In no particular order:

 

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

2. Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

3. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

5. Oliver twist by Charles Dickens

6. Jack Dawkins by Charlton Daines

7. London by Edward Rutherfurd

8. Ramses: Son of the Light by Christian Jacq (+ series)

9. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

11. Pompeii by Robert Harris

12. The Bastard by John Jakes (+ series)

13. Legacy by Susan Kay

14. The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick (+ series)

15. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

16. Tai-Pan by James Clavell

17. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

18. Hawaii by James A. Michener

19. Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

20. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

21. The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

22. Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus by James Otis

23. Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice

24. A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

25. The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

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