Book Review: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

Format:  Paperback

Pages: 410 pages

Published: 1913

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Genre: Fiction & Literature, Classics

 

 

 

Synopsis: 

Edith Wharton’s satiric anatomy of American society in the first decade of the twentieth century appeared in 1913; it both appalled and fascinated its first reviewers, and established her as a major novelist. The Saturday Review wrote that she had ‘assembled as many detestable people as it is possible to pack between the covers of a six-hundred page novel’, but concluded that the book was ‘brilliantly written’, and ‘should be read as a parable’. It follows the career of Undine Spragg, recently arrived in New York from the Midwest and determined to conquer high society. Glamorous, selfish, mercenary, and manipulative, her principal assets are her striking beauty, her tenacity, and her father’s money. With her sights set on an advantageous marriage, Undine pursues her schemes in a world of shifting values, where triumph is swiftly followed by disillusion. Wharton was re-creating an environment she knew intimately, and Undine’s education for social success is chronicled in meticulous detail. The novel superbly captures the world of post-Civil War America, as ruthless in its social ambitions as in its business and politics.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton”

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

7439970Format:  Paperback

Pages: 370 pages

Published: 1985

Publisher: Vintage Classics

Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Science Fiction

 

 

Synopsis:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

I am still in awe of what I have just finished. That is how emotionally impacted I was. The Handmaid’s Tale is the first book I ever read by Atwood. It was always on my TBR list and with the recent hype surrounding it, I decided to pick it up and start reading it. Never has there been a novel that was a politically correct story and provided an emotional impact, at the same time. You read this and you will grapple with the many issues that the novel sprouts out. The Handmaid’s Tale opens doors to what most people are afraid to look inside.  Continue reading “Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood”

Must Read Books That Represent Mental Illness

mental-1389919_1280

There needs to be an open discussion about mental health. And what better way to stand up to the stigma than to read fiction books that portray the topic perfectly. Readers appreciate to have characters that we can connect with and see as real people. So for Mental Awareness Month, here is a list of books that portray mental illness more realistically:

All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon

The Awakening – Kate Chopin

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Continue reading “Must Read Books That Represent Mental Illness”

Strength in Words: Book Quotes For Women’s History Month

poster-316690_1280

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let us remember that the fight for equal rights for women is a daily battle and remembering the great women who made a mark in history is not something that should be done for one day, let alone an entire month. We should never forget the contributions these women make. And what better way to recognize them all year round with inspiring words we hear from amazing women or quotes that demonstrate the importance of women in society.   Maybe your favorite made the list…

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

recite-btqtml

 

“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Continue reading “Strength in Words: Book Quotes For Women’s History Month”

Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Format:  Paperback

Pages: 589 pages

Published: May 14 , 2013

Publisher: Anchor

Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Synopsis:
“Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. “
As a constant victim of book hype, I  think by now I would have learned my lesson. But alas, I am again here to tell another cautionary tale. Most of my book-lover friends, all the press that it received, pointed Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the right direction to be another great read on my bookshelf. Unfortunately, this long book was excruciating to go through.

Continue reading “Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

Book Review: A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin

24874356Format:  Paperback

Pages: 56 pages

Published: February 26, 2015

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Classics

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A short story by Kate Chopin. The story takes place in an unnamed city–a city large enough to have a department store, a fashionable restaurant, a theater, and a cable car–probably in the early 1890s.

Kate Chopin was a great writer and never given the respect she deserved during her lifetime. Besides her popular novel, The Awakening, Chopin explores taboo issues such as what is it like to be a woman in society or the race identity. Like her popular novel, The Awakening, Chopin was never afraid to talk about issues and takes on the challenges that everyone else is afraid to touch.

Continue reading “Book Review: A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin”

Book Review: Matilda by Mary Shelley

29437563Format:  Paperback

Pages: 110 pages

Published: March 3, 2016 (first published 1819)

Publisher: Penguin Little Black Classics

Genre: Classics, Fiction

Synopsis:

Mary Shelley’s dark story of a bereaved man’s disturbing passion for his daughter was suppressed by her own father, and not published for over a century.

The only book I read from Mary Shelley was Frankenstein. So when I saw this novella, a story that her own father suppressed, I was very intrigued. Frankenstein  is one of my all-time favorite books so I wanted to see what other books Mary Shelley wrote.

Matilda is somewhat like Frankenstein, dealing along the same theme of the parent-child relationship. Shelley does a great job of having the reader identify with Matilda’s abandonment and loneliness issues. As the reader, you get the dive in her complicated relationship with not only with a mother she never got to meet but a father who abandoned her. Intensity of these relationships was clearly felt and Shelley did a great job portrayal for the first half of her tale.

The subject of incest, disgusting as it is, was one of the things that interested me in reading in this story. However, Shelley barely approach the subject, only a mere declaration from Matilda’s father. When this occurs, you get the overly dramatic and emotional telling of both Matilda and her father’s feelings, a perfect example of living in the Romantic Era. This when it got a little repetitive and at times straining to read. I was going to completely write this story off until I realized that I needed to do some more historical research to understand a little more of Mary Shelley’s intention of writing this story.

RothwellMaryShelley.jpg
Mary Shelley

To understand Matilda, you need to know learn the background of the author. Mary Shelley is the daughter of feminist philosopher and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft contracted an infection from the birth and died ten days after Shelley was born. William Goodwin left Mary in the care of a family member for a time while he traveled around Ireland.Although there is no evidence to the contrary, you might consider this novella a little bit of an autobiographical account of Mary Shelley’s life. So finding more about Goodwin’s and Shelley’s relationship, I saw that this was a perfect example of the parent-child relationship.

Then I discovered the reason why Shelley wrote this Matilda. Shelley and her husband, Percy Shelley, lost two of their children and writing this novella distracted Mary from her grief. Mary became emotionally and sexually distant from Percy so maybe writing this story helped her put her feelings in words. That could be the reason why it was so overly dramatic and at times all over the place. The story may have been a downer and have a depressing ending but it was how Mary felt at the time and the only way she can put her feelings into words. It gave her chance to look back at her life and examine her present and somehow combined the two to create a story, no matter how controversial it may be.

So be prepared. If you would like to read this story (and I highly suggest that you would), try to keep an open mind. Don’t look at as another Frankenstein because it is not. Knowing more about Mary’s history actually gave me a better understanding of Matilda and this novella gives us a rare look into this great novelist’s life.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository | Your local library

Book Review: The Trouble With Words by Suzie Tullett

unnamed Format: E-Book

Pages: 192 pages

Published: October 1, 2015

Publisher: Safkhet Publishing

Genre: Fiction & Literature, Women’s Fiction

Synopsis: 

Promises are easy to make but hard to keep.

Having long made a promise to her husband, young widow Annabel has no intentions of breaking it. What she does plan to do, though, is have a baby. Not the easiest of tasks for a woman with a deceased other half, and having explored all her options, her only choice is to take the unconventional route. Setting out to find her own donor, Annabel meets Dan. Single, fun-loving and definitely not looking for commitment, this unruly blonde, blue-eyed man seems perfect for the job.

Dan wants nothing more than to find his dream woman. But with a mother intent on sabotaging his every relationship, he can’t help but think he’s destined to remain single. Of course, he knows his mother doesn’t really want him all for herself, why else would she keep insisting he meet Maeve? Why else would she insist Dan promise to find himself a wife before she meets her maker?

Forced to negotiate matters of love, life and death, Annabel and Dan seem the answer to each other’s prayers. But will they really be able to keep the promises they made? And is having a baby really the answer?”

This was a very quick and enjoyable read. This book is all about promises, promises about the past, promises about the future. And it was just beautifully well done.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Trouble With Words by Suzie Tullett”

Book Review: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

23215471Format:  Paperback

Pages: 436 pages

Published: June 2, 2015

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Genre: Fiction & Literature, Women’s Fiction

Synopsis:

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?”

Continue reading “Book Review: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot”

Book Review: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Quick

23847945

Format:  E-book

Pages: 224 pages

Published: September 8, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction & Literature, Women’s Fiction

Synopsis:

Caroline Jacobs is a wimp, someone who specializes in the suffering of tiny indignities in silence. And the big ones, too. But when the twinset wearing president of the local Parent Teacher Organization steps out of line one too many times, Caroline musters the courage to assert herself. With a four-letter word, no less.

Caroline’s outburst has awakened something in her. Not just gumption, but a realization that the roots of her tirade can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, when her best friend very publicly betrayed her. So, with a little bit of bravery, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and tell off her childhood friend. She busts her daughter out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback . . . some twenty-five years later. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets rise to the surface, and Caroline finds she has to face much more than one old, bad best friend.”

“There’s no great dividing line between being a kid and an adult. We’re not all Caterpillar’s turning into butterflies. You are what you are. When you grow up, you may be more careful than when you were a kid. You don’t say what you think as much as you once did. You learn to play nice. But you’re still the same person who did good things or rotten things when you were young. Whether you feel good about them or bad…whether you regret them. Well, that’s a different thing. But it’s not like they disappear forever.”

That is just one of the amazing quotes from this great novel. I really did not expect to like this book this much. I was expecting light fluff that would leave me wanting more and asking questions. That is definitely not the case here. I finished this book in 2 days! That’s how good it was. It had all of the makings of a great novel: funny, charming, adventurous, and heartfelt. I was immediately hooked from the very first page and from then on I could not it down.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Quick”