Books I Couldn’t Finish: The Classics Edition

Remember last month, when I did that one Top 10 Tuesday about my bookish goals for the year?  Well, I’m (sort of) talking about how that’s going!

Some things I wanted to do: read more classics/vary my reading and listen to more audiobooks, while using the library more.  I’m doing well with using the library more.  I’m doing okay with the varying of the reading material and the listening of more audiobooks- not as much as I’d like, but better than I expected.  And classics…well…that’s not really happening.

However, the only classic I’ve actually read this year has been The Outsiders…and while I have oodles of time to read more classics, I’m in this weird needing to read classics kind of mood.  I figured that listening would work out better on the classics front, because, more often than not, reading them is a big struggle.

What has brought this post on?  Well, last week, I tried AND FAILED MISERABLY to listen to some classics.  So tonight, I am sharing those classics, and why they ended up in my DNF-pile.

Book One: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

Why I Wanted To Read It: It’s obviously a classic, but it’s also a dystopic novel, and I love dystopic novels.  I was definitely intrigued by the genetics and creating people to fit the roles that particular society needed.

Why I Couldn’t Finish: I was bored 5 minutes in, and decided to wait a day to see if it was just me not being in the right mood for it.  That didn’t happen, and after a very torturous hour of listening, I knew I had to give up on it.  I was hoping that listening to it would make it easier to get through the book but…considering I could barely listen to 5 minutes, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t last very long reading it.

Book Two: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina Cover

Why I Wanted To Read It: I haven’t seen the movie, but since I knew it was a movie, I thought I would give the audiobook a try.  Really, the only thing I know about this book (besides it being a movie, of course) is that it was mentioned on Gilmore Girls and that Anna throws herself under a train or something.

Why I Could Finish: I didn’t even make it to an hour!  I gave up after 20 minutes because of sheer boredom.  Plus, the dang book is 33 hours long, so the length is/was intimidating.  Probably less so because I tried to listen, and didn’t have to look at how long of a book it is.  Again, my attempt to listen to a classic because it would be easier to get through completely failed.  I think I’ll stick with the movie…assuming I get around to watching it, of course.

Book Three: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

Why I Wanted To Read It: I read it in high school, and figured that listening to it would fulfill pretty much half of the goals I set for myself.  And…since the movie is coming out sometime this year, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to re-read a book I HAD to read for school, and actually liked.

Why I Couldn’t Finish: To be fair, it’s not the story itself.  It’s just…20 or 30 minutes in, I realized I didn’t like the narrator.  I’ll probably give it another try, but will stick to a physical or digital copy.

Here’s a freebie: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables Cover

Why I Wanted To Read It: Well, my reasons for wanting to read it are really similar to my reasons for wanting to read Anna Karenina-  a classic turned into a movie I have yet to see.  And like Anna Karenina and Brave New World, I ACTUALLY THOUGHT LISTENING TO IT would make it easier to take in.  But I decided to cancel the request because I figured it was another book that would bore me to tears, and because my previous attempts to listen to classics didn’t work out so well.  I might give it a try sometime in the future.

So while I couldn’t make it through Anna Karenina or Brave New World, and while I decided I didn’t even want to try with Les Miserables, it wasn’t a complete loss.  Here’s why:

  • I did try, which is super-important.  Because you don’t know if you’ll like something unless you try.
  • I’m not going to like every book read, especially with how much I read.  These classics didn’t happen to work.
  • I am willing to read The Great Gatsby, because I would like to read it again.  Listening isn’t always going to work for me, just like holding the book in my hands isn’t always going to work.

I have to admit, it was kind of fun to talk about the books that I couldn’t finish, so I may do it again should I come across a book I can’t finish.

Let’s Hit Shuffle, Shall We?

I’m feeling in a particularly random mood, so I decided to hit shuffle and see what comes up.  Unless there’s a song from the last time I did this, in which case I shall skip over it.

  1. Mis Disarray by the Gin Blossoms.  Another Gin Blossoms song?  Cool!  I actually really like this song, and No Chocolate Cake really reminds me of New Miserable experience.  This song is no exception to that.
  2. No Reins by Rascal Flatts.  Country music!  I really like this song.  Actually, I just love pretty much everything they do.  It just speaks to me.
  3. Give It Up by Oliver Boyd And The Remembralls.  Words cannot express how much I LOVE Oliver Boyd And The Remembralls.  It took me a few listens to figure out that it was about Cedric.  Poor Cedric.  But I love how you sort of have to pay attention to the lyrics to get its connection to Harry Potter.
  4. Breath by Michelle Branch.  Maybe iTunes is telling me to listen to Michelle Branch more?  Because this is the second time she’s appeared on this list.  I love this song, and for some reason, I always want to cry when I listen to it.
  5. Hydra Lab from the Captain America: The First Avenger score.  Ignoring the fact that I have never seen Captain America, I really like the score.  While there a few songs that stand out, this isn’t one of them.  It’s still a cool song and all, and I’m slowly becoming a fan of Alan Silvestri.
  6. Me And Emily by Rachel Proctor.  I love this song, and it’s something I listen to every once in a while.  Mostly when I need some cheering up, and no, I have no clue why it does.  I think this is the song she’s most known for, because I have no clue what else she’s done.
  7. Everywhere by Moustache.  Love this song!  Seriously, it is a great song.  I think it’s the music that drew me in, but overall…it’s just amazing.
  8. Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton.  Add her to the list of people I had forgotten I even had.  I may have to listen to the 3 songs I have by her again, because it’s been a long time.  It’s definitely one of my favorites…when I remember I have it, of course.
  9. Just A Dream by Carrie Underwood.  Have I mentioned how much I love Carrie Underwood?  Because I do.  I love this song (like how I love pretty much every song on this list.  There’s something sad and yet dramatic about it.
  10. 23 Days by SHeDAISY.  Wow, lots of country music today!  I’m not complaining, mind you, but I kind of forgot I had SHeDAISY on my iPod.  I do like this song, but it’s not one of my favorites by them.

That’s all for today…tomorrow will be another exciting Top 10 Tuesday post!

Faery Tales And Nightmares

Book: Faery Tales And Nightmares by Melissa Marr

Book Info: Published by HarperCollins; 418 pages; Hardcover; Source: library book

Goodreads Summary: Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly. 

From the gentle tones of a storyteller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with…or to fear. 

Lush, seductive, and chilling, Melissa Marr’s stories revel in the unseen magic that infuses the world as we know it. 

I generally don’t read short stories, but this year, it really does feel like I’m reading more of them.

I’m not sure what to think of this collection of short stories, all written by Melissa Marr.  Overall, it was just okay.  Nothing really stood out, and the ones that are related to her Wicked Lovely series were somewhat confusing, and I felt like I was missing things.  As I haven’t read the Wicked Lovely series, it’s no wonder I was confused.  But I’m not really sure if I want to read it now, because if I’m confused reading short stories, how confused would I be if I were to read the series?

The other ones didn’t have a lot of resolution and were either boring or lame.  It was well-written, and she seems to be really good at world-building, but unfortunately, this book didn’t do anything for me.  I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t.

Rating short stories is a little hard, but overall, I would have to give it a 2 out of 5.  I think fans of her Wicked Lovely series might enjoy the book.

Sarah’s Key

Book: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Publishing Info: Published by St. Martin’s Press; 294; Hardcover

Goodreads Summary: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

I’m so torn about what to think about this book.  I love Sarah’s half of the book, and didn’t really care about Julia’s half, other than to find out what happened to Sarah.

Sarah’s half was powerful and compelling, and I wanted to know more about what happened to her, her parents, and her brother.  I felt for Sarah, and I want to know more about the Vel d’Hiv roundup.

What lost me, though, was Julia’s story.  I didn’t really care about her or her marital problems.  And the connection between her and Sarah?  It didn’t feel very believable.  It’s almost like de Rosnay decided that the only way to connect the two women was to have Julia’s in-laws live in the apartment that Sarah’s family lived in.

The ending was especially annoying, and I didn’t really care that Julia was divorced or living in New York.  It was no surprise that she named her 2nd daughter Sarah- the second Julia found out she was pregnant (and not sure if she wanted to keep the baby) I knew 2 things.  One, she would keep it, and two, her baby would be a girl so she could name her Sarah.

Anyway, it went from a really interesting and captivating story, and turned into something completely stupid once Sarah got back to her old house.  If only de Rosnay had focused more on Sarah, instead of having Julia figure out what happened to her…

I really wish I could give it 2 different ratings- one for Sarah and one for Julia.  But since I can’t do that, I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.

Fever 1793

Book: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publishing Info: Published by Aladdin; 256 pages in paperback

Goodreads Summary: It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.

This has been on my to-read list for a while.  I’m a big fan of Laurie Halse Anderson, and I assumed I would love this book.

But I didn’t.  I’ll admit, it’s strange to be reading historical fiction by Anderson, when I’m used to reading her more contemporary stuff.  And she did set the bar high with both Speak and Wintergirls.

I was bored while reading it.  I couldn’t connect with any of the characters.  They fell flat for me, and didn’t feel like real, living, breathing people.  I felt like I didn’t know anything about the characters by the end of the book.  The setting  was pretty generic, with very little descriptions of smells, sounds, or scenery.  If I didn’t know that it was set in Philadelphia, I would never have guessed that the novel took place there.

However, it is a good introduction to the yellow fever outbreak, and Halse clearly did her research about the yellow fever epidemic.  But I felt like her characters suffered for it, and that’s a disappointment, because creating vivid, memorable characters is one of Halse’s strengths.

I have to give it a 2 out of 5.  It was just okay, and not was good as I was expecting.

Grammys!

I don’t normally watch the Grammy’s but given the fact that I didn’t really listen to any music over the last week, and had no idea what to talk about, music or podcast wise, I figured I’d watch part of it.  I am sad about Whitney Houston dying, because she was so talented!

I only saw bits and pieces of most of it, since I was going back and forth between the Grammy’s and other stuff.

Here are my random thoughts:

  • Marc Anthony presenting best rap performance was a little odd, but I guess it doesn’t really matters who the presenters are.
  • loved Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean’s performance.  And the set was cool- there was something very steampunk about it.
  • didn’t like Rihanna’s performance with Chris Martin
  • I’m not sure who performed right after that, but I loved it.  Was it OneRepublic, because something of that performance (and the song) reminded me of them.
  • Loved Pauley Perrette as a presenter for best rock performance.  And I loved her dress.
  • I can totally see Maroon 5 covering the Beach Boys. and performing with them.
  • has Ryan Seacrest ever hosted the Grammys?  If not, then that is very surprising.
  • I loved Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars.
  • It’s been years since I’ve watched the Grammys but it seems more concert than award show.  Granted, it is honoring music…but seriously.  Where are all the awards?  Probably in the 2 hours I was flipping back and forth between other shows.
  • Chris Brown twice?  Did they have a hard time coming up with performers or something?
  • Not surprised Adele won for song of the year.  But considering that no one else stood a chance in a category that has Adele nominated…
  • Would it be weird to say that Katy Perry had on a lot more clothes than I expected?  Her performance was a little strange.
  • Not surprised that Lady Antebellum, but I am slightly surprised that Taylor Swift didn’t win.  It would’ve been cool if Blake Shelton won since his wife was presenting.

And it was at that point I stopped watching because I was bored.  I suppose I should take a look at who won sometime today…

Labyrinth

Book: Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Pages: 515; Hardcover; Published by Berkley Trade

Labyrinth is about Alice Tanner, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles on a cave, where she discovers 2 skeletons, strange writing on the wall, and the pattern of a labyrinth. 

800 years earlier, Alais is given a ring and a book for safekeeping.  According to her father, the book contains the secret of the Holy Grail, while the ring will identify a guardian of the Grail.  It takes a tremendous sacrifice on the part of Alais to keep the Grail safe.

I didn’t like it.  I was bored, and had to fight the urge to skim the book.  It alternated between the present time and the past, but it didn’t flow very well for me.  Just when I was getting used to the present day, we’d be jolted back to the 1200’s.  It jumped around to several different people and places, and it was frustrating and annoying to figure who was who and what they were doing.   

I thought the main characters were pretty weak- for a book that’s just over 500 pages, you’d think we’d learn something about the characters and get to know them.  But with such a focus on how they looked, it was hard to care about them or even like them.  All of the women were beautiful, but there was more variance among the men. 

And in the end, the present day just mirrored the past.  I get why Mosse wrote the book the way she did, but it was obvious after a while that there was a connection between past and present.  The Alice/Alais thing gave it away, and while I hoped that it wouldn’t go in that direction, unfortunately, it did. 

It felt like Mosse was telling me what happened, and I didn’t feel like I was there, experiencing what was going on.  There was a lot of description of things I didn’t care about.  Plus, there were times when the characters spoke in French and there was no translation…I know the book takes place in France, but it just didn’t work for me.

I give it a 1 out of 5.  I didn’t care about the mystery of the Grail at all.

A Game Of Thrones

Book:  A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Pages: 694 pages, hardcover, published by Bantam Books

I’m rather amazed I managed to finish this book.  Basically, it’s several different families fighting for the Iron Throne after the king dies.

Here’s the thing.  I get why people like this book.  I really do.  I, however, couldn’t get into it all and it’s not really for me.

First off, the characters were pretty standard for a political intrigue.  I was very indifferent about the characters, and could care less about them and the world they in live.  I just didn’t care what happened to them.  I know it’s only the first book in the series, and not everything is going to be revealed right off the bat, but still, make me care about one of them.  I don’t care who, I just want to care about someone. 

I’m not really sure why there needed to be so many viewpoints.  There are 8 that I counted.  The multiple POV’s didn’t work for me, especially since the character names that head each chapter could be changed with the setting for each chapter and have the same effect.  I felt like he couldn’t decide on a POV so he went with all of them.  

I’m not sure why this particular novel is considered fantasy.  Can someone please explain to me why this is considered fantasy?  Because I just don’t get it.  It reads as an alternate medieval history, with a few elements that seemed more like superstition or folklore as opposed to elements of fantasy. 

The one thing I thought was well done was the feel of the book.  It felt very historical and medieval, and Martin really did capture the essence of political drama and the fight for the throne.  It really did feel like historical fiction as opposed to fantasy… 

Overall, I have to give it a 1 out of 5.  It’s not my thing, and I felt like I had read it before.

The Luxe

Book: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Pages: 433 (Hardcover)

The Luxe is about the Holland family in Manhattan during 1899.  The Holland sisters, Elizabeth and Diana, discover that their family is poor after the death of their father.  Elizabeth has to choose between true love and an obligation to help her family by marrying Henry Schoonmaker.  However, Elizabeth is believed to be dead after her carriage overturns near the East River and her younger sister Diana is left to pick up where her sister left off.

It was okay, and it only got interesting the last 3 or 4 chapters.  I loved the idea of a novel set during the Gilded Age, on a time when appearances and the social structure and code rule all.  But good lord, this book was boring!  It really didn’t feel like it was set in 1899- like the characters were pretending that they had gone back in time, instead of actually living during the Gilded Age.  It felt fairly shallow, and the characters had no depth- Diana does get some points for having a little more depth than everyone else, but the characters overall didn’t feel too developed.  Godbersen seemed to rely on stereotypes and cliches- it was pretty predictable, and Elizabeth certainly didn’t turn out to be the nice girl that was portrayed in the prologue.

I love the idea of the novel, and the cover was absolutely beautiful, but it didn’t grab my attention at all.  The only reason why it’s getting a 2 out of 5 is because I liked the cover and the fact that each chapter was preceeded by a short blurb of how people were supposed to act or a piece from the local (and fictional) newspapers.

Wicked

Book: Wicked by Sara Shepard

Pages: 310 (Hardcover)

My Review: Wicked is the 5th book in the Pretty Little Liars series.  In book 5, a new A appears, sending the girls threatening texts.  They think it’s a joke because Mona (who was A) dies, and so they don’t take it seriously until they find Ian in the woods.  Emily falls for Isaac, a boy she met at a church event, and feels confused about her sexuality, but eventually comes to terms with the fact that she’s bisexual.  Hanna starts a new clique with Naomi, Riley, and her stepsister Kate.  Aria has feelings for Xavier, who she met at an art show, but he ends up dating her mother, whom he met through an online dating website.  And Spencer realizes that she might be adopted because her grandmother left her money to her “natural-born grandchildren.”  Ian still denies the fact that he killed Alison, and the girls discover that he was murdered by A after discovering his body in the woods.

So far, this is my least favorite book in the series.  I liked it, but it was slightly harder to get into.  We figured out who A was in Volume 4, but then A/Mona died in Volume 4, and suddenly a new A appears?  The girls just can’t get a break!

It didn’t really add anything new to the series, and I expected something more interesting since so much was resolved in Unbelievable.  But Wicked was more of a repeat of what happened in Unbelievable.  But it was still a good read, with a lot of intrigue and the murder of Ian will certainly make the next book really interesting.  In all honesty, it felt like it was written to make the publishers happy.  Like, the first 4 are doing well, so why don’t you write another one to keep it going?  It really felt like an afterthought.

Rating: 3 out of 5.  I liked it, but I just couldn’t get into it.