Shirley By Charlotte Brontë

Published: 1849

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Pages: 624

Genre: Classic, Victorian

Rating: 4/5

Shirley is set during the Napoleonic Wars which gives this story a tumultuous backdrop amid all the personal drama that is happening. We are mainly following Catherine Helstone and later on, Shirley, as they navigate their lives and possible romantic inclinations. This book is well known for being incredibly feminist for when it was written and I have to say that I was impressed with how many different ways Brontë was able to ridicule society’s standards for women. Brontë also brings in a lot of political talk that I am sorry to say I didn’t understand very well because I am not well versed in the differing political parties in England. I did find all the talk fascinating and I wonder how much of her current events influenced her writing since Shirley is set roughly forty years before it was written.

The romance in this book took me by surprise which may be because I went into this story knowing nothing about it, but once the idea of a possible romance(s) was introduced it kept me guessing all the way through. Brontë showed us all different types of love in this one story and it was so well done. There was examples of when love goes right, when love goes wrong, unrequited love, and loveless marriages. I appreciated that while a lot of the plot involves romance it never took away from the quiet everyday nature of the overall story.

The last part of the book we unfortunately lose our framing narrative of Catherine or Shirley narrating the story and we switch to other character’s perspectives. This switch made the story lose all its immediacy and it made everything that we had been building up to fall flat. Although, it is important to note that Charlotte lost all of her siblings while writing this book and it undoubtedly changed things about the story. I can’t help but wonder if the loss of Anne (the last of her three siblings to die within a year of each other) as she was nearing the end of this story played a part in the shift of characters. I guess we can never know what Charlotte was originally intending for this story but despite the ending, it is without a doubt deserving of the long-lasting praise it receives.

Charlotte Brontë had a wonderful use of language and the setting (current day West Yorkshire) was so vivid. There is also so much humor infused throughout this story and I actually laughed out loud numerous times while reading. Overall, I found Shirley to be an insightful look into 1800’s England, the Industrial Revolution, and the daily impact and effects of war.

“(every character in this book will be found to be more or less imperfect, my pen refusing to draw anything in the model line)”

“Love can excuse anything except Meanness; but Meanness kills Love, cripples even Natural Affection; without Esteem, True Love cannot exist.”

“Am I to die without you, or am I to live for you?”

~Cassie

#ClassicsCommunity Mid Year Update + Book Subscription

This year long reading challenge was put together by LucytheReader on Youtube. The goal is to promote reading classics and to read as many as possible. My personal goal for this challenge is to read one a month. I also made a list of  a few books that I want to read as part of that challenge in my original post back in December 2019. Today, I’m going over all the classics I have read so far this year plus a check in on how many I have actually read on that list I made.

In February of this year I decided to subscribe to the Coffee and a Classic book subscription box. They curate fun boxes with beautiful editions of classics. You can choose between getting coffee, hot chocolate, or tea or just choose for them to randomize the choice (which is what I do). The box also comes with a treat and gorgeous mugs and goodies that are made specifically for the book. I will be sharing the boxes that I have received because I have gotten some of my most beautiful books from them. This is a PRICEY subscription box but if you are a huge lover of classics and you are able to subscribe I do recommend them. On the other hand, if you can’t commit to the box but you are interested in some of the goodies then they do have an Etsy shop where you can buy past boxes, mugs or some of their other curated goodies.

Update

I am pleased that I have managed to read 8 classics already this year, but only one of these books is on the list that I made. I also put a couple of classics on my 20 five star predictions for 2020 and I haven’t read either of those yet. Next Thursday, I will have an update on how I have being doing with those five star predictions so that was a bit of a spoiler! Anyways, here are the books I still want/need to read this last half of the year:

*All three of these I read in high school but I want to reread them as an adult.

*These two I have never read but I have been wanting to read these authors for forever.

Book Box

March

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  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott *Purple is my favorite color so I was so thrilled when I saw the book. It also feels incredible. This is my fifth edition of this book!
  • “I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now” mug
  • Loose Leaf tea (chai) *this was SO good
  • Potpourri
  • Little Women print
  • Cake *I added water and cooked it in the microwave. It was the most delicious fudgy cake and the serving size was perfect
  • metal fan bookmark *very heavy and nice quality

April

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  • The Awakening and other stories by Kate Chopin
  • “The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies” art easel print *amazing quality
  • Wood bookmark *stunning artwork and quality
  • “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul” mug
  • Loose leaf tea (not pictured) *great tasting but weak
  • Treat (not pictured) *I honestly can’t remember what it was but my kids and I devoured it once I received the box so it must have been delicious!
  • Wax melts (not pictured)

May

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  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Black out blend dark roast coffee (it’s in the “evidence” bag- so fun!)
  • Black Chalkboard mug
  • “Last Meal” (ha!) chocolate covered strawberry popcorn *This is good but also a little weird. I could only eat a few at a time.
  • In Cold Blood ice/heat bag
  • Life magazine Truman Capote bookmark *As a true crime person I think this is really cool
  • Magnet (not pictured)

June

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  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo *This edition is so stunning! This picture does it no justice and it feels amazing.
  • French Roast Coffee
  • Madeline cookies *These were very tasty.
  • Incense burner set (you can see part of the sticks on the side of the picture) *I haven’t lit one yet but it still smells so fragrant just in the bag. It also comes with a matchbook that says Hunchback of Notre Dame on them which I think is so beautiful.
  • Metal pendant bookmark *This is also wonderfully crafted and lovely to look at.
  • Cathedral of Notre Dame mug (not pictured)
  • Hunchback of Notre Dame luminary *This came with a tea light so you can tape the paper in a circle and place the light inside. The paper is so stunning that I think I might just frame it and hang it up somewhere in my house.

*My July box is currently on its way to me so I will share that in a separate post whenever I receive it.

~Cassie

 

Stancliffe’s Hotel by Charlotte Bronte

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Publication Date: 2016 (first published 2003)

Publisher: Penguin Little Black Classics

Pages: 111

Genre: Classic

Rating: 3/5

Charlotte Bronte wrote this collection of stories for her and her siblings eyes only, so it is hard for me to know how to review it because I feel like this is just the bones of a story and she definitely would have put together a more cohesive story if she knew it was going to be published. In fact, it was only published by Penguin in 2003 and Charlotte wrote this book when she was 22, in 1838. Jane Eyre, her most famous work of art, was published in 1847. So, Stancliffe Hotel was also Charlotte figuring her writing style out by writing stories about a fantasy world, Angria, she (and possibly her sisters too) had created.

This book is by no means well written but I was impressed by how well certain themes are still resonating with us today. One instance being the first chapter of the story where our narrator, Charles Townshend, goes to visit a friend and finds him high on opium. Another one, that particularly struck a chord with me, since I read this book at the beginning of June, was a crowd gathers to protest their Duke and he brings in people to violently put an end to it. It is incredible that a book written in the early 1800’s is still so closely mirroring the world we live in basically 2000 years later.

I would only recommend this book to you if you are already a fan of Charlotte Bronte and are interested in discovering the world of Angria. You might also enjoy this book if you are a lover of classics and just enjoy the written word from back then. My favorite thing about classics is seeing the slice of life from so long ago and also being able to compare/contrast that to our modern times.

~Cassie

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Publication Date: 1982

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Pages: 253

Genre: Classic

Rating: 4/5

I knew that this book was an emotionally impactful story dealing with abuse and sexual assault. But not only does this book deal with those issues (starting on the very first page!) it is also an exploration of race, racism, religion, colonization, sexuality, and feminism. This book is told in diary and letter format and is told from mostly Celie’s perspective. We follow her from the age of 14 through her declining years. Celie is a character that you cannot help but cry for, hurt for, root for, empathize with and ultimately be inspired by. She is someone who I will carry with me forever and the ideas and thoughts presented by Walker have changed me and how I view the world. I particularly connected with the ideas and thoughts of religion and I never realized how entwined racism is with our modern perceptions of religion.

The book is set in the South during the 1930’s and starts with Celie being raped by her father and having two kids by him. Celie notices her father becoming interested in her sister, Nettie, and tries to protect her. To get her out of the way her father arranges a marriage for Celie with a man, Albert, who does not treat her well. Albert happens to be in love with a woman, Shug, who is a well known singer and has no desire to settle down with him. Celie finds a picture of Shug and is completely captivated by her. The relationship between Shug and Celie  and how it changes Celie is what takes up most of the narrative. Albert’s oldest son, Harpo, and his wife, Sophia, are also important characters in the book as well as all the various side characters surrounding everyone.

My only critique of this book is that about half way through, when the letters are introduced, the story started to feel disjointed. The pacing slowed way down and while I still think the story told was powerful and thought provoking the flow wasn’t as smooth. The Color Purple is a harrowing, difficult, and crucial read that sadly is as relevant to today as it was when this book was published in 1982.

~Cassie

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

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Publication Date: 1869

Publisher: Puffin

Pages: 420

Genre: Classic

Rating: 4/5

This was my first time ever continuing on with the Little Women series and while it was nowhere near as good as the iconic first book I did end up enjoying it. At the end of Little Women Jo declares that her lifelong dream is to open a boarding school for boys where she can love on them and her husband, Fritz, can teach them. This book follows along with the adventures of the school and is almost entirely focused on the lives of the boys who live there.

It took me about a hundred or so pages to get invested in the story but once I did I flew through it. This book definitely reads to me like a middle grade by which I mean it is not a very complex story. It does have her signature morality stories and her feminism that comes through as well. Little Men was published in 1869 so obviously her perception of what female equality and empowerment look like are antiquated in our eyes but she was a big believer in the suffragette movement. In fact she has the distinction of being the first women in her state of Massachusetts to register to vote. She also refused to be married because she never wanted to compromise her work in order to put the effort in that being a wife entailed in the late 1800’s. I bring this up because I think it is important to remember the times that classics are written in and to appreciate how innovative or anti establishment an author might have been during their lives. Especially since parts of this book were laughable compared to our modern standards of how the girls at the school are perceived and expected to behave.

My favorite part of this book was the character of Dan. He is one of the boys that comes to the school through a recommendation given to him by a friend who also attends the Bhaer school. Dan doesn’t make it easy for himself or Jo and her husband but I loved how they never gave up on him. For a book written in the 1860’s there is a lot of great advice given on how to love a kid through the tough times. It was a beautiful reminder of how love and kindness can heal more than anger and tough words.

Eventually I want to read the third book in this series, Jo’s Boys, which is set ten years after the end of this one. I am looking forward to seeing where these characters end up and I have certain hopes for some of them. I am a boy mom of three so for me this book was very heartwarming and inspiring. I love the slice of life from roughly a hundred and fifty years ago and how kids were being raised then. So much has changed but the parts I really loved were the things that haven’t.

~Cassie

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Publication Date: 1953

Publisher: Penguin Plays

Pages: 152

Genre: Classic

Rating: 5/5

Back in my school days I read and I’m pretty sure I liked Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman so when I decided that I wanted to read more plays I immediately went for a Miller. The Crucible is is based on the Salem Witch Trials but it was written as a commentary on McCarthyism. I have spoken before about how interested I am in cults and what motivates someone to follow or believe in them. I feel like this play is centered on those same themes and is probably the reason I loved it so much. Cults, McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trial all require people to willingly believe an idea, person, or thought and seemingly not question how authentic that person or idea is. In this play we see this clearly in the character of Abigail and her female friends. They were caught dancing, some of them naked, in the woods by Abigail’s uncle, Reverend Parris. The Reverend’s daughter, Betty, and her friend Ruth are now showing signs of hysteria. To stay out of trouble and also to get revenge Abigail “confesses” to partaking in witchcraft and starts naming other women who worship the devil. Obviously this story is more nuanced and detailed then what I just shared but it is a short play and I don’t want to ruin your experience with the story. I was completely captivated by the way the community of Salem believed these girls so strongly that they willingly participated in the murder of so many of their neighbors. I can completely understand the anger and frustration that Miller had with McCarthy and Congress that he felt compelled to write this story. It is a scathing critique on how destructive people can be when they hold all the power and think they are unequivocally right.

~Cassie

January + Magical Readathon TBR

*Today is the last day to enter my holiday giveaway. Leave a comment on this post and make sure you are following my blog <3*

I know I’ve mentioned it a few times but seriously how did this past year go so fast?! 2019 was a pretty great year but I am really excited to see what 2020 will bring. This year I want to try to make my TBR posts more achievable for me to actually complete. I like having a structured TBR but I also like the freedom of being able to mood read. To that end I will only be picking 6 books per month to complete which I feel is a good number because on average last year I was reading 10-12 books a month. Of course this month is a little different because I also have a different set of books that I picked during the month of December based on G from Book Roast on Youtube’s Harry Potter themed Magical Readathon. She made the coolest interactive website so if you haven’t checked it out then you definitely should! My goal from this list is to complete half of them this month and then half in February. I feel like that will give me enough time to be caught up for her next readathon.

January TBR

I have picked six categories that coincide with some of my bookish goals (which I will go over in an upcoming blog post) and I will be using these categories every month.

Kindle Book

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“For fractured souls are like magnets.
Drawn to collide into an impossible bliss…”

Labeled a ‘Cursed’ woman of Eve from birth, Maddie has endured nothing but pain and repression at the hands of The Order’s most abusive elder, Moses. Now living with her sister in The Hangmen’s secluded compound, finally, Maddie, is free. Free from the suffocating faith she no longer believes in. Free from endless years of physical and mental torment.

Just… free…

At age twenty-one, the timid and shy Maddie is content to live within the confines of her new home—safe from the outside world, safe from harm and, strangely, protected by the Hangmen’s most volatile member; the heavily pierced and tattooed, Flame.

Flame.

The man who ceaselessly watches over her with his midnight dark and searing eyes. The man who protects her with a breath-taking intensity. And the man who stirs something deep within her numbed heart.

But when circumstances conspire for Flame to need HER help, Maddie bravely risks it all for the broken man who has captivated her fragile soul.

The Hangmen’s most infamous member, Flame, is ruled by one thing—anger. Plagued by haunting demons from his past, an all-consuming rage, and isolated by an abhorrent hatred of being touched, Flame’s days are filled with suffocating darkness, pierced only by a single ray of light—Maddie. The shy, beautiful woman he cannot purge from his thoughts. The woman he has an overwhelming need to possess…
… the only person who has ever been able to touch him.

Flame’s mission in life is to protect Maddie, to keep her safe. Until a trigger from his troubled past sends him spiraling into madness, trapping him in the deepest recesses of his disturbed mind.

His Hangmen brothers fear that Flame is beyond saving.

His only hope of salvation: Maddie and her healing light.

Dark Contemporary Romance.
Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, disturbingly sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language, and very mature topics.
Recommended for age 18 years and over.

Kindle Unlimited 

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Erika

I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael

Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.

Unprotected.

The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

***Corrupt can be read as a stand-alone. No cliffhanger.

Book of the Month

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The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Five Star Prediction

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Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

Goodreads TBR

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Classic

The first two weeks of 2020 are a classics readathon as a part of the #ClassicsCommunity 2020 group. The first round of Smutathon 2020 is this weekend so I will be pausing my classic during that time but other than that I will be trying to read primarily classics. I’m not going to do a TBR for it though because it might take me the whole two weeks to read this book.

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Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Womenbrought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.

Magical Readathon 

Read a book with 500+ pages

I read a very large chunk of this book in 2019 and put it down and never finished it. I am annoyed that I am going into the new year with some partial read books so I will be trying to read this one this month so I can just be done with it. I am really loving it but it the story changed and I decided to prioritize other things instead.

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What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

Read an urban fantasy 

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The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both…

Read a paranormal book

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Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Read a book that starts with S

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My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Read a book with an author who’s last name starts with T,M, R

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Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Read a book with a winged creature or feathers on the cover

I don’t know why you can’t see it on this picture but on my copy there are little black birds in the white part of the book.

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The Redbreast is a fabulous introduction to Nesbø’s tough-as-nails series protagonist, Oslo police detective Harry Hole. A brilliant and epic novel, breathtaking in its scope and design—winner of The Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel and selected as the best Norwegian crime novel ever written by members of Norway’s book clubs—The Redbreast is a chilling tale of murder and betrayal that ranges from the battlefields of World War Two to the streets of modern-day Oslo. Follow Hole as he races to stop a killer and disarm a ticking time-bomb from his nation’s shadowy past. Vogue magazine says that “nobody can delve into the dark, twisted mind of a murderer better than a Scandinavian thriller writer”…and nobody does it better than Jo Nesbø! James Patterson fans should also take note.

Read the first book you think about

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On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

Read a book shorter than the one you just finished

For this I just picked one of the smallest books on my shelf. I really want to read it and I know no matter what I read it will be smaller.

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The place is Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, an enclave of rigid piety huddled on the edge of a wilderness. Its inhabitants believe unquestioningly in their own sanctity. But in Arthur Miller’s edgy masterpiece, that very belief will have poisonous consequences when a vengeful teenager accuses a rival of witchcraft-and then when those accusations multiply to consume the entire village.
First produced in 1953, at a time when America was convulsed by a new epidemic of witchhunting, The Crucible brilliantly explores the threshold between individual guilt and mass hysteria, personal spite and collective evil. It is a play that is not only relentlessly suspenseful and vastly moving but that compels readers to fathom their hearts and consciences in ways that only the greatest theater ever can.

~Cassie

 

#ClassicsCommunity 2020

Lucy from the booktube channel Lucy The Reader has set a reading challenge for 2020 to read classics. It is set up to be a personal challenge where you can try to read more classics, so if you have never read any, then your aim for the year could just be to read one! You can also try to read one a month, which is what I plan on doing, or you can read certain sub genres. Really whatever you want to do is perfectly acceptable for this challenge. Click this link to be taken to the official Goodreads group page if you are interested in knowing more about this challenge. There is also a list on the group page of more classics based booktubers if you want to check any of them out.

I already listed a couple of classics that I want to read in one of my previous posts 20 Five Star Predictions for 2020 but I thought I would list here a few more that are on my mind to read or reread in 2020.

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Little Women is recognized as one of the best-loved classic children’s stories, transcending the boundaries of time and age, making it as popular with adults as it is with young readers. The beloved story of the March girls is a classic American feminist novel, reflecting the tension between cultural obligation and artistic and personal freedom. But which of the four March sisters to love best? For every reader must have their favorite. Independent, tomboyish Jo; delicate, loving Beth; pretty, kind Meg; or precocious and artistic Amy, the baby of the family? The charming story of these four “little women” and their wise and patient mother Marmee enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England was an instant success when first published in 1868 and has been adored for generations.

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The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

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The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

~Cassie

Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway that I am currently running!

VICTOBER TBR

Along with being the spookiest time of the year October is also for reading all things Victorian. One of my bookish goals this year was to read more classics since I used to read a lot more of them before I had kids. And my oldest is ten so its been a DECADE since I read more than one classic in a year. I already participated in #Classicsathon this year but when I heard about this readathon I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to read some more classics. To make sure that what I picked to read was truly Victorian I looked up this list on Goodreads and I was surprised by how many of these I already own. Also, just because I didn’t know what the actual definition of Victorian literature was, it is a book that was written when Queen Victoria reigned, 1837-1901. Most of the popular classics that we think of were written in this time so this is a pretty easy readathon to take part in. There are five challenges for this readathon and two group plays by Oscar Wilde. I don’t think I will be participating in the group read but if you want to know more about it and all the readathon info here is the link to the Goodreads group.

General Challenge: Read by candlelight

This is an easy one and one that can be done throughout the month

Lucy’s Challenge: Read an underrated Victorian book from the same year as your favorite Victorian classic

*This one I’m bending this challenge a little because my favorite classic is Little Women which was written in the Victorian era but I can’t find anything underrated that I want to read from that year. So I just decided to pick any underrated Victorian novel and that would be a good substitute.

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When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

Katie’s challenge: Read a Victorian book under 250 pages and/or over 500 pages

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A young governess falls in love with her employer in this classic coming-of-age tale set in nineteenth-century England.

Kate’s challenge: Reread a Victorian book

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Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

Ange’s challenge: Read a book by a Victorian female author (bonus: one that’s new to you)

*I can’t believe I’ve never read this book!!

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An unpolished and devastating epic of childhood playmates who grow into soul mates, Wuthering Heights revolves around the willfully childish Catherine and the dark Heathcliff, who, in the words of Charlotte Bronte, “exemplifies the effects which a life of continued injustice and hard usage may produce on a naturally perverse, vindictive, and inexorable disposition.” Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destines to love each other forever. But when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.

Set amid the wild and stormy Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights is widely regarded as the most original tale of thwarted desire and heartbreak in the English language.

 

I would love to read all four of these books this month but realistically I will be happy if I can get through one of these. I also want to read all my thrillers I have planned so we will see how much I am able to actually to read by the end of the month.

~Cassie

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

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Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: December 1817

Pages: 236

Genre: Classic, Romance

Rating: 5/5

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abby is about Catherine who goes on vacation with her neighbors, the Allen’s, to Bath and while there she meets some new people. One is a family friend of her brother, the Thorpe’s , and the other is the Tilney family. In the Thorpe’s she finds a close friend, Isabella and her aggressive older brother, John. In the Tilney’s she meets Henry and his sister Eleanor. The story follows along with Catherine’s adventures with all four of these new friends. The latter part of the novel is about Catherine traveling with the Tilney’s to have an extended visit at their home, Northanger Abbey.

I went into this book not really knowing what it was about and I was pleasantly surprised to realize that it was a sweet little romance. Catherine and Henry were so cute together and it is always fun to read a classic and be reminded of how different things were then between men and women. But at the same time there are so many things that are similar. The feeling of having a crush and being excited to see them are universal throughout history. Also universal is how frustrating and annoying an aggressive male can be who thinks that there is no way that you won’t like him. Another theme of this book is friendship. It was interesting to see how Catherine’s friendship with Isabella developed through the story especially in comparison to her friendship with Eleanor.

Some people describe Northanger Abbey as being gothic and creepy. There are definitely some veins of that throughout the story (mostly towards the end) but I don’t think there is enough to qualify as such. However, it probably was considered gothic at the time it was written, the late 1700’s. I have previously read two other Jane Austen books before but I think this one has to be my favorite. I plan on reading more of course but I really enjoyed the character of Catherine a lot. I also liked how Austen chose to write this book with a satirical approach. A lot of the commentary she made on social issues and on relationships  still pertain to now.

Austen has given us a coming of age contemporary romance that I think translates very well into our world  today. If you enjoy romance and are hesitant to pick up a classic I highly recommend this book to you. Not only is it short but it is very well written and has all the drama you could need.

~Cassie