Tag: Literary Exploration Reading Challenge

December 28, 2014

2014 Literary Exploration Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I signed up for the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge last year to add a little variety to my TBR – I tend to lean towards romances and mysteries but it’s such a wide literary world out there. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to do this (horror? I have to read horror?), but I’m so glad I did. 


My reading list
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte | Classics 
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner | Fantasy
The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris | Graphic Novels
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel | Historical Fiction 
Coraline by Neil Gaiman | Horror
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt | Literary Fiction
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith |Mystery
The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith | Nonfiction
The Princess Bride by William Goldman | Romance
Pivot Point by Kasie West | Science Fiction
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum | Thriller
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | YA


I was nervous about the graphic novel, horror and a bit about the science fiction. Although it would be a stretch to say I’ve fallen in love with horror and science fiction, I feel like I’m a little more comfortable with those genres instead the deep seated fear I had beforehand. Reading these somewhat tamer versions opened my eyes that there are elements I enjoy in these novels. 


The challenge was also an excuse to actually sit down and read The Bourne Identity and The Princess Bride, which I loved!


I have signed up for The Daily Prophecy’s fairy tale challenge for 2015, and I will continue my classic-a-month pattern. I’m not sure if I want to take on any more yet. What challenges are you participating in this new year?

Posted December 28, 2014 by Ellen in the canon talks, Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 20, 2014

Review | The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

Title: The Bourne Identity
Author: Robert Ludlum
Publication Date: January 1980
Publisher: Orion
Series: Jason Bourne {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Who is Jason Bourne? Is he an assassin, a terrorist, a thief? Why has he got four million dollars in a Swiss bank account? Why has someone tried to murder him?…

Jason Bourne does not know the answer to any of these questions. Suffering from amnesia, he does not even know that he is Jason Bourne. What manner of man is he? What are his secrets? Who has he killed?



The Jason Bourne movie adaptions are some of my dad’s favorites, so when I found this version of The Bourne Identity on the shelf, it was a sign. This first installment of Ludlum’s popular series was both a hit and a miss for me.


The hits: 


Bourne is such a strong, complex character that it is nearly impossible to not be drawn into his story. I loved how he is constantly questioning himself, searching for the answer, for his true identity. For me, the real highlights were his cleverness and ability to think on his feet – I loved the scenes that showcased his nickname, “the chameleon”. 


The miss: 


Marie. 


Oh my, Marie.


She was horrible. There was little to no character development for Jason’s “love” interest. Her sudden and deep devotion to a man who essentially kidnapped her stalled all future character progress and created a woman who blindly followed her lover’s orders, becomes completely dependent on him, and makes him her entire world. I know nothing about Marie’s past, what she left behind in Canada, her favorite color…nothing. It irritated me to no end. 


The plot was okay – I didn’t consider it a hit because, to be honest, this book was a slog at times. As much as I enjoyed Jason’s story, the vast amount of info made it hard to keep current with what was going on in the story all the time. 


Posted November 20, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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October 23, 2014

Review | Pivot Point by Kasie West

Title: Pivot Point

Author: Kasie West {website
Publication Date: February 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: Pivot Point {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

When West’s Pivot Point was published, I heard the masses scream out with joy, and I’ll admit, I was apprehensive. I get a little nervous when a book gets so popular, but I wanted to read Pivot Point. I finally picked it up at the library last week.

Addie is a good heroine. Her own insecurities among the world of the Paranormal let me identify with her quickly, and my heart went out to her as soon as she learns about her parents’ divorce. I loved how the story focused on her as a person instead of identifying her looks; West let her heroine be described naturally in the flow of the story, which I loved. There was a simple kind of magic in Addie’s character – the good girl that everyone wanted to cheer for.

It’s in the plot of the story where West’s skill really came to light. I loved the twists and turns of  the dual narration, the side-by-side plot events – each shown in a different light – and the two romances. Addie’s ability to see which path to choose is one I envy, but after living in her shoes for a while, I understand her frustration. The ability to see what might happen is enough to drive me insane, even in a book, but in a good way. In the middle of Addie’s story, I couldn’t get enough. 

However, it took me quite a bit to figure out what was going on the with dual narratives in the story. Initially, I thought my bookmark had fallen out and I had missed a huge chunk of the story. Once I picked up on West’s little hints about the chapter, I could follow along, but it took me a while.

Overall, it took me a while to become invested in Addie’s story. I liked her enough, but there wasn’t that magical pull until later in the story, once all the plot events began to come to a climax. 

THE RATING:

Posted October 23, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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September 15, 2014

Review | The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Title: The Princess Bride 
Author: William Goldman
Publication Date: 1973
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.



The Princess Bride is one of my favorite stories from childhood. The masked man, the stubborn, beautiful princess, and the crazy situations they get themselves into make this story one for the ages. However, reading the book was a completely different experience…one that I loved


Why? 


1. True love. No romance is complete without it.
2. A mean, nasty bad guy who enjoys violence in the form of Prince Humperdinck (hard not to laugh when I say his name…).
3. “AS…YOU…WISH…” (come on…I know you echoed it in your mind). 
4. The depth of the secondary characters’ stories, especially Inigo Montoya. I loved the background of the six-fingered man, his father, and the sword. 
5. The adventure keeps the story moving quickly.
6. I don’t know about you, but I just love the scenes with the Sicilian. 
7. The way Goldman uses humor to tell the story. The occasionally slapstick comedy keeps the plot moving quickly and uses laughs and witty retorts to reinforce themes and motifs in the novel. 

In the end, there was so much more depth, background and hilarity in the novel form of this story that I quickly fell in love. I know without a doubt, this is a story I will read over and over again. 


THE RATING:


Posted September 15, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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August 17, 2014

Review | The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith

Title: The Geek’s Guide to Dating
Author: Eric Smith {website}
Publication Date: December 2013
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source & Format: Library; hardcover

Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

You keep your action figures in their original packaging. Your bedsheets are officially licensed Star Wars merchandise. You’re hooked on Elder Scrolls and Metal Gear but now you’ve discovered an even bigger obsession: the new girl who just moved in down the hall. What’s a geek to do? Take some tips from Eric Smith in The Geek’s Guide to Dating. This hilarious primer leads geeks of all ages through the perils and pitfalls of meeting women, going on dates, getting serious, breaking up, and establishing a successful lifelong relationship (hint: it’s time to invest in new bedsheets). Full of whimsical 8-bit illustrations, The Geek’s Guide to Dating will teach fanboys everywhere to love long and prosper.


“What was once a derogatory terms for a socially inept person has now been taken back by a community of people proud to wear the title….We’re eccentric, enthusiastic, intelligent, and, occasionally, kinda awkward” (Smith, 19). 


My favorite kind of people. 


The Geek’s Guide to Dating is a down-to-earth, kind, funny book that makes dating not so scary. Ladies, although the book is guys, Smith makes a point to include the “gal geek,” especially as he begins his advice. There are some sections that are more appealing to the dudes then the girls (I figured I could skip the facial hair tips), but the overall advice spoke of general dating tips, ideas that appealed to me, a “gal geek.” 


This book stood out from the gobs of other dating advice for two reasons: one, it is aimed a particular demographic (but still delivers reliable dating advice) and two, has one of the best narratives I’ve found. Smith’s narration was never dry or dull; as only a minor geek (M says I’m more of a nerd than a geek), I didn’t pick up on a lot of the inside references to video games or lore, but reading this book on break felt like I was talking with a good friend instead of sitting outside with my salad. The easy nature of the narrative gave way to quick puns, clever tips, and made it easy to read Smith’s work. 


One of the book’s potential downfalls is the fact that it relates only to a certain demographic: the geeks. However, the advice inside the covers was stellar: I particularly loved the geek breakdown (the book nerd was my favorite!) and the date planning portion. Planning a date (especially an early date) is terrifying, but Smith’s ideas, framed in geek references, makes it look simple and fun. 


THE RATING:


WHY:
– Loved the fun narrative
-Solid relationship and dating advice that can be used by everyone
– A fun read

RECOMMENDED FOR:
Geeks, nerds, tweebs and whatever other term is out there (is tweeb even a word? Or is that from a Molly Ringwald movie?) who need a little extra help with love and dating. 

Posted August 17, 2014 by Ellen in the canon talks, Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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July 26, 2014

2014 Reading Resolutions

1. Complete book notes before publishing my review/post
I’m good at doing this about 97% of the time. Sometimes I’m so excited to get on to my next book that I forget, but writing down my thoughts has helped me organize my reviews so much. 

Want more? Here’s my post on blog organization! 

2. Create a new feature! (Maybe something with classics or maybe even a personal one?)
I’ve done really well with this one! Just this summer, I am rereading/reviewing the entire Sookie Stackhouse series in my Summer of Sookie posts! I also have:
The Canon Classics | once a month, I review a major classic
Saturday Morning Coffee Date | my three dates with a book
Behind The Canon | a glimpse into my life as a book blogger

3. Reply to all blog comments. I love when bloggers reply to my comments, so I need to pick it up.
BAD. I’ve really failed at this one. 

4. Comment & be more active on blogs I follow. 
I am proud of how I’ve become more active in the blogsphere. Twitter and Bloglovin’ have really been great tools for me to connect! 

5. Read 150 (or more) books.
I’m at 104 of 150 books!

6. Read the books I own 
I’m proud to announce that my Great TBR Pileup has shrunk! Yay! The only problem is that I keep buying books…

7. Read 1 classic a month (directly inspired by Hannah @ So Obsessed With)
I am 6 for 12 so far. My next read is Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale
8. Participate in 1 reading challenge.
I am 7 for 12 in Literary Exploration Reading Challenge so far this year! 

Posted July 26, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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July 12, 2014

Saturday Morning Coffee Date | A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



Title: A Study in Scarlet 
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publication Date: 1887
This Edition: 2003
Publisher: Barnes & Noble 
Source & Format: Owned; The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1, paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

If you’ve seen the first episode of Sherlock on BBC, you’re already familiar with this story. There’s a few changes, however, to the episode from the series we’re all bananas over (I know I am). The story itself is split into two parts: a current hunt for the murderer and a past, relating how this hunt for revenge began. 


FIRST DATE I finished the first part of A Study in Scarlet in one sitting. I admit it. I ate it up like candy; it was wonderful. Sorry, I tried to put my serious “book reviewer” face on for this one, but it just kept slipping off. The first interactions between Watson and Holmes are fascinating: watching the two different personality types fit into each other’s world are the makings of a rivalry/friendship that has lit up the literary world for ages. These interactions show both characters at their best…and worst. Holmes’s arrogance during the investigation into the initial crime fits his character so well that I began to laugh.


The mystery itself appears to be a dead end. All of the clues either run to the ground or [finishes Part 1]…oh. OH. How on earth did he come to that conclusion?


SECOND DATE 
Wait.


What? 


Mormons?


This is a little disconcerting. checks page numbers and table of contents Apparently it is the same story, but now I’m reading about a “wizened adventurer” and a young orphaned girl who have been picked up by Brigham Young’s group traveling West. Ah, okay. Let’s see where this goes. 


THIRD DATE In the end, the second part was a little strange to be, but the same thread of engaging storytelling was present throughout. I actually fell in love with that story as much as I did Part 1. Lesson learned? Don’t question Arthur Conan Doyle. 


THE RATING:

WHY:
– Great character introductions to the series.
– Loved the mystery and detective hunt in Part 1.
– I was taken a little aback by the story change in Part 2, but I’m glad I kept reading through my confusion.


RECOMMENDED FOR:
A Study in Scarlet is a great introduction to the world of Holmes, both for well-know mystery lovers and the newbies that want to break into Baker Street. I loved this first novel in the Holmes series, despite it’s interesting turns. 

Posted July 12, 2014 by Ellen in the canon talks, Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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June 7, 2014

Saturday Morning Coffee Date | Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Title: Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt {website
Publication Date: June 2012
Publisher: Random House
Source & Format: Owned; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.



THE PICK-UP LINE: Jamie’s review of Tell the Wolves I’m Home that I read last year. 


FIRST DATE: I was hesitant to start this book, despite Jamie’s glowing review. Why? It’s a bit of a prejudice I picked up in my final year in college. If a book is marked simply “fiction” instead of “romance,” “fantasy,” whatever, I tend to find it overwrought, almost like the author is trying too hard to be clever instead of letting the story do the work. So, when I saw that Brunt’s debut novel was marked fiction, I was a little nervous. 


I feel it is safe to say at this point that my prejudice was idiotic. 


The novel starts out as a story about families – their prejudices, disagreements, and the ever-popular “holding it together for the children” face that June’s mother puts on in the first bit of the novel. This struck a particular chord with me, as I’m sure it will/does with anyone who has had family problems (read = everyone).


June’s narration is so intriguing. She is a bit of a precocious fourteen-year-old girl. The world, all at once terrifying and fascinating, has shrunk down to her sick uncle’s New York apartment and the portrait he works on. The narration reflects the combination of her innocence against her fears, especially when it comes to the man her whole world circles around: Finn. 


I was still on the rocks during my first date with this book, but June’s narration was so engaging, I had to keep reading.


SECOND DATE: Oh my gosh…


Is she really…? No. She wouldn’t. Not the gold paint…


Finn’s death forces June out of her comfort zone. Her ally, her best friend, the one who understood her the most (in June’s mind) is gone, and reading her loss is so sad. The feels in the book (not only this section) is stunning. 


The portrait itself intrigues me. Why the title, why the focus on spacing, “negative space,” the colors, the foreground? I don’t give anything away, but I think it would a fascinating discussion to see what everyone thinks about the portrait’s representation. I can’t stop thinking about it…


After Finn’s death, the family unravels a little more. There is a sense of a disconnection, reaching far and wide within June’s small family unit. June’s conversation with her dad at the kitchen table stunned me. Finn was the glue holding all of these secrets in place, but with him gone, June can’t hold it together on her own.


THIRD DATE: I just finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home. I just…wow.


Toby’s character blew me away unexpectedly. Finn was what June needed as a child (that protector) but Toby is what June needed to grow up. As the baby of the family, she didn’t have the responsibility of caring for another, like her sister Greta. When Finn’s loss leaves both she and Toby lonely, they grow with each other. I fell in love with his past silent role in the family and the kindness and sacrifice he gave up for June, even though she didn’t know it at the time. 


June’s growth throughout the story is tremendous. Her awareness of herself and how her actions affect others fascinated me from start to finish. June grows from a girl to a young woman, learning how to shoulder responsibility and actions. The narration reflects her growth as she second guesses herself or lets words slip out that she didn’t mean to say. But always, her moral compass, her ability to tell right from wrong, is spot on. 


THE VERDICT: Yes. 
Seriously. This book captured me in so many ways, from the analytical “what does it all mean?” side to the emotional “all the feels!” side. I loved Tell the Wolves I’m Home. 

Posted June 7, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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May 17, 2014

Saturday Morning Coffee Date | Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Title: Coraline 
Author: Neil Gaiman {website}
Publication Date: January 2002
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source & Format: Library; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what’s what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we’re hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book’s eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.

THE PICK-UP: Looking over my list of recommended horror books for my Literary Explorer Reading Challenge, I’m a little intimidated. Horror isn’t my thing – at all. I can’t even watch the previews for horror movies. Ooh, there’s a Neil Gaiman book…I read American Gods in college for Supernatural Lit and that wasn’t too bad. Maybe Coraline will work. 

THE FIRST DATE: The cover quote: “One of the most frightening books ever written”…what have I gotten myself into? Deep breath. *opens cover*

Oh, this isn’t so bad. There are definitely some creepy undertones (it is Gaiman, after all), but I really like Coraline. She’s so polite, even when the adults constantly get her name wrong. Her adventurous spirit is already a major characteristic in her character; I love her constant refrain of “I am an explorer.”

THE SECOND DATE: And here’s the full-on creepy. You know that moment in the movie previews when the heroine enters into the dark, damp hallway and that music comes on? I just wanted to scream at Coraline “DON’T DO IT!,” but she’s much too curious. I personally would have hightailed it out of there with the other mother produced those icky black buttons, but I’m more of a wimp than an explorer, like Coraline. 

The parallel world is uncanny and uncomfortable in the most intriguing way. I know bad things are going to happen, but there’s this atmosphere that keeps me reading. Most of it is due to my adoration of the main character. Many people might chalk up Coraline’s bravery to childhood innocence, but the way she handles herself in the face of her fears and adversity is remarkable. 

THE THIRD DATE: I’ve finally figured it out. It’s the storytelling that makes this story so remarkable and unnerving. The deceptively simple narration describes this frighteningly parallel world with both blase and bluntness that only serves to increase the ante on the events Coraline faces. I have to admire how she doesn’t waver in the face of her fears. I don’t know if I could look such terrors in the eye.

THE VERDICT: I’m Coraline’s new biggest fan. The simplicity of the narration and the complexity of the story itself created an addictive quality about Coraline that kept me reading through the rough and scary (to me) parts. Although I’m still a little queasy about horror, I might explore a little more into Gaiman’s works.

Posted May 17, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 1 Comment
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May 15, 2014

Review | Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Title: Bring Up the Bodies
Author: Hilary Mantel 
Publication Date: May 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Series: Thomas Cromwell Trilogy {Book 2}

Source & Format: Owned; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies” follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne’s head?



THE CHARACTERS

The evolution of Cromwell’s personality in of itself is a story. I picked up this book right after reading Wolf Hall, so seeing the change in Cromwell’s person is extraordinary. He has evolved from a quiet man, a man devoted to servitude, to a man in power and well aware of it. Although Cromwell’s character occasionally strays into the unlikable, it’s the humanity that is always present in his actions, his words, that keeps him from wavering into villain territory. There are glimpses of the man from Wolf Hall, but they are woven into the complex character that has been so long overlooked in the Tudor saga. 

Cromwell’s character reigns supreme in Bring Up the Bodies, no doubt. The supporting cast of characters is strong and vibrant, providing plenty of drama for Cromwell’s character to react to. I know the story of Henry VIII, but to see how the man talked not only himself but all of England into following his actions created a character that borders upon childish. Anne herself wallows between pitiful and shrewish; the only flattering description of her is found near the end of the novel. Cromwell’s view of these major players in English history creates an unseen side of their humanity that makes these characters come alive off the page.

THE PLOT

Bring Up the Bodies follows the story of Anne Boleyn’s fall from grace to a tee. I appreciated Mantel’s focus on the particular ironies of the queen’s fall, especially in Cromwell’s observations. Mantel includes the various rumors of Anne’s presumed sorcery/witchcraft/what-have-you, and presents them all with the detached attention of a historian. Each rumor is mentioned and included in the story, but the novel’s focus remains on Cromwell and his motives.

Cromwell, for the most part, is interested in providing Henry with what he wants. The small squabble of his conscience and heart versus his head creates one of the most fascinating cases of man versus himself that I’ve seen outside of college. As the plot reaches it’s climax, the war within Cromwell intensifies, making the tension within Bring Up the Bodies even more powerful.

THE WRITING

After reading Mantel’s work, I will forever think of the main character as “he, Cromwell.” The vibrant characterization and unusual narrative style create an almost addictive quality about the book. I had a little trouble getting used to the writing style in the first novel, but the second installment in the trilogy was comfortable and familiar. I felt like I should portion this book out, like a child trying to make a candy stash last a little longer, but couldn’t help but gobble it up. 

THE VERDICT

I’m a fan. Not the fair-weather kind, but the diehard, paint on the face, all the way fan. Cromwell, a character that had previously remained in the background of my Tudor readings, finally takes charge of his part in the Tudor drama and makes a story perfect for the history buffs and drama lovers.

Posted May 15, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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