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Friday, December 24, 2010

Sorry I'm slacking!

I've had a lot going on, so I've been slacking on my posts. We have guest from out of town (amazing how many visitors you get when you live in Hawaii!) and I've been preparing for Christmas. I know, I know- excuses, excuses. To make up for it, I'm going to power through a few books. I promise. Just watch me!

Merry Christmas! May your holidays be bright, your relatives in a tolerable state of intoxication, and the food delicious!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cards for Matthew Mickelson Butman

Hello, friends. This blog post is a little different from the other ones I've posted, but it might be the most important post I've written so far. I want all of you to read this link: Did it work? You got it? Well, let me sum it up: Matthew Mickelson Butman is a very thoughtful little boy who is terminally ill. For Christmas, he donated a bunch of stuff to charity and all he wants in return is Christmas cards from around the world. This year for Christmas, I want you to send a card to this little boy. Here's his address again, in case you missed it:

Matthew Mickelson Butman
 PO Box 1865 
Wylie, TX, 75089.

And while you're at it, find a way to send Christmas cards to soldiers, give gift cards to the homeless, and spread a little cheer. We're all just people, after all- and people need to feel loved. Never underestimate the power of kindness from strangers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a Sherlock Holmes novel written by Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle. It is also the only Sherlock Holmes novel I have ever read, but it certainly won't be the last. I found the story to be very entertaining, and I didn't feel too lost in spite of the many unfamiliar words and settings- most of it was easily understood through context clues. This might not be important to some readers, but it means a lot to me. I like to be able to develop a feel for the surroundings of the characters to get into the mood of the book. This can be difficult to do when you have no idea what the heck is going on... For example, I've never been to England. I've never been on the moors, or been in a mire. I have no real idea of what London is like, let alone what it was like over 100 years ago. I'm a housewife who is pushing 30 and lives in Hawaii and who doesn't get out much. Yet, somehow, though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writing I was still able to step into the shoes of Dr. Watson so fully that I was able to feel the chill air of the English moors- without turning on the air conditioner!

Long story short:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are an ambiguously gay (you read it your way, I'll read it mine!) pair of detectives living in London. Sherlock Holmes is well known for his master sleuthing skills and generally fashionable appearance, Dr. Watson is well known as being the constant companion and personal assistant and roommate and business partner and lesser skilled detective counterpart of Sherlock Holmes.

One evening, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were sitting in their home in London being ambiguously gay and studying a walking stick that had been left in their office. Sherlock Holmes asks Watson what he thinks about it, then makes Watson feel stupid for missing some details. (I like to think Watson then ran off flailing his arms and sobbing loudly like Nathan Lane's character in The Birdcage).

Before long the owner of the walking stick, James Mortimer, shows up and and tells Holmes and Watson of the legend of the curse of the Baskerville family. Basically, one guy was an evil psycho and sold his soul to the devil. He kidnapped a girl, she escaped, and when he chased after her a giant black hound from Hell killed him. The legend goes that the hound kills off the Baskervilles one by one after they inherit the estate.

Everyone thinks it's a giant load of bullshit until Mortimer explains that a good friend of his, Charles Baskerville, was found dead from an apparent heart attack and looked as though he had been scared to death.

Holmes and Watson agree to meet the next Baskerville heir, a man named Henry. Upon meeting Henry, they discover that one of his boots has been stolen. Henry also receives an anonymous note warning him to stay away from the moor. Holmes makes some deductions about the note, and agrees to take the case.

Later they all meet at Holmes' and Watson's apartment to discuss some details. As Mortimer and Henry are leaving, Holmes and Watson follow them only to find that Mortimer and Henry are being followed. Holmes and Watson follow the follower, and notice he seems to be wearing a fake beard. They do some sleuthing but are unable to find out who the guy is.

Henry decides he's going to Baskerville estate anyway, Watson is designated to join him while Holmes finishes a case in London. A string of suspicious characters come in and out of the story, some weirdness happens, and Holmes solves the case. And that's all I'm gonna tell you because you should read the book yourself- it's very good!

And now for my moment of thankfulness: I am thankful for the improvement of my friend Lara's condition. She's having to learn how to use her body all over again, but she's a strong woman and I just know she's going to get through this!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Until I read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz I pretty much thought the version starring the adorable Judy Garland was how the story went. Boy was I wrong! Being the towering pillar of immaturity I am, I tend to really get into children's books and even some teen books.  This was no exception. Wonderfully written, this story rich and vibrant enough to keep you enthralled while still being light and airy enough that you don't fill like your brain is getting heavy- like a good chocolate mousse. Since I do most of my reading before bed, it is easy for me to get caught up in a book and stay up after reading it while my brain runs in circles and tried to dissect the story/plot/information that it was just fed. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz didn't have that effect on me. Instead it gave me the simple joy of being a part of the the land of Oz, and the whole time I read the story I felt like a kids again. Something in the experience made me feel like I was wrapped in a fuzzy blanket drinking hot cocoa by a fireplace- warm, comfortable, relaxed.

Long story short:
Most of us know the basic story- Little girl (Dorothy) from Kansas lives with her aunt and uncle, and when a cyclone hits she doesn't make it into the cellar and is swept up into the storm, house and all, with her little dog Toto. House lands on a witch in a weird place called Oz, Dorothy gets some shiny new shoes, and sets out to find a wizard who can help her get home, with the people of Oz bidding her good luck and best wishes because they're thrilled that the witch got squished. Dorothy is told that she can follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz lives, and along her journey she befriends a living scarecrow who wants a brain, a rusted tin man who wants a heart, and a cowardly lion who wants some courage. They face some perils, meet the wizard (who send them off to have an altercation with the Wicked Witch of the West), kill the other witch, come back to the wizard (who turns out to be a man from the Midwestern US) and he gives Dorothy's friends some random crap that's supposed to represent the things they were looking for. Meanwhile, he promises Dorothy that he will take her home in a hot air balloon because it is the only way to cross the desert that surrounds Oz. Hot air balloon is made, but it takes off by accident without Dorothy. Dorothy gets upset, meets with a good witch, and the good witch tells her that the shiny shoes are magic and can bring her home. Dorothy uses the shoes, everyone lives happily ever after.

However... the book is a lot different from the movie I knew and loved as a child. Here's how the book and movie differ:

In the book, the shoes are silver, not ruby

The perils that Dorothy and her friends encounter on their journey are geographical and have nothing to do with the Wicked Witch of the West- the witch has a MUCH larger part in the movie than in the book

Dorothy is sent to kill the Witch of the West, not just collect her broom

There are whole races of people encountered in the book that do not get mentioned in the movie

Dorothy doesn't meet the Witch of the West until she is sent to go kill her

The book goes into much more detail about the Wizard in general- describing his city, how he got there,  and how and why he deceived the people of Oz

When Dorothy first lands in Oz, the meets the witch of the North- Glinda is the witch of the South

When Dorothy arrives home, she wasn't dreaming- she was actually gone.

There's a lot of other little differences, and a lot of things that are left out of the movie altogether. All-in-all, this was a very enjoyable read, and I plan on reading it to my children.

To keep with the theme of gratitude this month, here's some things I'm grateful for: My health, and the health of my family. A friend of mine recently had a major aneurysm and could have very easily died. She's in the hospital recovering, going through physical therapy, and her chances of living and recovering are good.

I'm also grateful for my little girls. They drive me crazy, but I couldn't live without them. My youngest walked for the first time yesterday, and it was very bittersweet because she is my last baby. I need to make it a point to not get caught up in the things I want to get done each day so I don't forget to play with my girls. REALLY play with them. Dads shouldn't get to have all the fun!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Rights of Man

The Rights of Man was written by Thomas Paine in 1791 as a retort to Edmund Burke's criticism of the French Revolution. The Rights of Man not only defends the French Revolution, but states that revolution is necessary when a government fails its people. This, as you can imagine, was not well received by many governments at the time.

Long story short:
The bad thing about The Rights of Man is that it's kind of a bore to read after a bit. Mostly because it's repetitive. Other than that, it made me feel empowered- motivated to make a difference where I can. It is an inspiring call to arms that still rings true after all of this time. A lot of what is written feels like common sense- common sense that you never really thought about before. For example, people have rights. Pretty basic. However, when a government 'grants' you rights (gay marriage, anyone?) they are implying that somehow they have the power to give and take the things that should be considered basic freedoms in any truly civilized society.

Everyone has the right to be happy as long as they aren't hurting or oppressing other people, right? The government's job should be to protect that freedom, right? Then why are we letting them tell us what freedoms we can and cannot have? Is your government allowing you to have the freedoms you have a right to simply by being alive? Is it telling you which basic rights you can and cannot have? Are they a protective, uniting force or are they an oppressive, dividing force? These are the questions that The Rights of Man encourages you to consider.

This isn't the most entertaining thing I've ever read- however, it is one of the most inspiring. I think that everyone should have to read it as an adult, when you're old enough to appreciate it and consider the message behind it.

To steal and idea from a blogger friend of mine, I'm going to end this post with something I'm grateful for: I'm grateful that I live in a country where I can help choose who runs it and I'm allowed to think that they are all dipshits. I would have long ago been beheaded or punished in other countries. Thank you, United States of America! You are not perfect, but you are mine. And I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Vegetarian Grill

Now, before you call shenanigans on me for posting this before I finish reading Rights of Man, allow me to promise you that I have indeed been reading it. However, I've also been on a quest to whip my family's dietary habits into shape. Although I'm not going to make them go strictly vegetarian, I am trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our menu. Also... I'm scared of grilling. And I want to overcome that fear. So, yes, I am reviewing a cookbook.

It's a cookbook. So, it has recipes. I haven't tried any of them yet, because I'm still scared of the grill. But that's not important. Let's change the subject. In the cookbook, there are little random blocks of info- hints, tips, anecdotes- that sort of crap. This is common and totally unremarkable except for one little line I found: "My kids and I especially enjoy grilled marinated tofu, right out of the refrigerator."

....And this is where I call BULLSHIT!!!!! I've never met a kid who has enjoyed tofu- not grilled, not marinated,  not anything! You could dip it in peanut butter, cover it in chocolate, and smother it with caramel and your average kid would still gag as soon as that shit hit their throat. Furthermore, I've never known an adult who has said "you know, I really enjoyed tofu as a child." Sorry, Ms. Andrea Chesman- I'm not buying it! Whatever crap that poor woman is feeding her children must me abominable in order for them to "enjoy" tofu. Unless, of course, by "kids" she is being literal and referring to young goats. Then I might owe her an apology, because goats will eat anything.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

...And Now For Something Completely Different!

I've focused solely on the literary aspect of of this blog thus far, but the name also clearly implies that I am a housewife. And so, to fill the vast open spaces between books, I'm going to start adding some housewifely material to this blog. Mostly because of how long it took me to read Don Quixote, partly because I just started reading Rights of Man, which, from the looks of things, will also take a while to finish.

My first housewifely tip is... FAKE IRONING! I hate ironing clothes. I hate it like I hate stepping on a slug barefoot. That being said, my friend Toni taught me this little trick. Get a spray bottle, and fill it half full of water. Fill the the remaining empty space with any white colored fabric softener. Spray on dry clothes until slightly damp, then shake, stretch, and smooth the wrinkles away, and hang them up. Good to go! Why white fabric softener? Because the colored stuff will leave spots on your clothes. This is cheaper than buying the anti-wrinkle spray, and less hot and more lazy than ironing. FYI- does not remove wrinkles from face, no matter how much you shake yourself. Oh well, at least I tried!

Also, even though I started this blog with the intent of only reading the classic books I have immediately available to me, people like to give me books as gifts- so there will also be some more modern books coming soon at random intervals.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don Quixote of La Mancha

This book took me a long time to finish. It definitely has its awesome moments, and I can see how it came to be considered a classic- however, it also has many long boring stretches and is hard to follow at times. The parts that are good are very, very good- and the parts that aren't... well, I've fallen asleep while reading it on more than one occasion.

Long story short: Alonso Quixano is a retired man of fifty with too much time on his hands and an unhealthy obsession with books about knights and chivalrous adventures. One day he decides to become a knight, because he is bat-shit insane and has way too much free time. He renames himself Don Quixote, decides that a lady in town is his lady-love (unbeknownst to her) and changes her name to Dulcinea (which she is also totally clueless about) and sets off on his old beat up work horse to commit acts of chivalry in her name (again, with her having no idea that this is going on).
He sets out on a mission to be knighted. He goes to an inn, which he believes is a castle, and has the innkeeper knight him. After leaving the inn, he has a negative encounter with some people who refuse to acknowledge Dulcinea's beauty. He is very severely beaten. He gets found and rescued by a neighbor who brings him home.
Don Quixote's niece, housekeeper, priest, and barber try to talk him out of continuing his adventures. He doesn't listen to their advice, so while he is still recovering they wall up his library and destroy his books. When he tries to find them, they convince him that the whole library was taken by an enchanter. He, being totally bonkers, believes it completely.
Despite the advice of his friends and family, Don Quixote resumes his misadventures. He promises a dull-witted neighbor, Sancho Panza, that he will give him an island to govern if he will be his squire. Sancho agrees, believing  a knight as fine as Don Quixote will surely earn a fine island. Sancho eventually catches on that Don Quixote is crazy, but they have many interesting misadventures including:

Don Quixote battles windmills, believing that they are giants

The making of a wondrous remedy which is supposed to heal, and instead causes the Don to vomit and pass out and nearly kills Sancho

Leaving an inn without paying, only to have Sancho get tormented and their wallets get stolen

The loss of some teeth

The murdering of some sheep

The stealing of a barber's basin, believing it to be a helmet

Various beatings, bouts of diarrhea, and assorted uncomfortable bodily afflictions

Being captured and hauled home in a cage

The attacking of various innocent people, animals, and inanimate objects

and a whole lot of trickery at Don Quixote's expense.

Definitely worth reading, though at times the reading is very slow. I particularly love the battling with the windmills- for some reason that scene really strikes a chord with me. Much of what we see as a giant or obstacle may in reality be a tool to help us in some way. So when armed for battle, be sure to ask yourself: is this truly a giant? Or just a windmill? Is this even my windmill to battle?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Secret Garden

Ok. Aside from being a smartass, I'm also a total sap. Most movies with ANY emotional content, no matter how cheesy, will make me sob. Especially if it has anything to do with a parent and their child. The Secret Garden is no exception. It is well written, easy to read, and has engaging characters. I've probably read the story or watched the movie at some point in my youth, but if I did I don't remember it.

Long story short:
Mary is an plain, sickly, ugly little child with a horrid personality. She lives in India with her rich family who wants nothing to do with her. In fact, she barely even sees her parents because they assigned an ayah to take care of her. Mary's ayah doesn't like her- but she does her every bidding. Mary doesn't even dress herself! She is spoiled while still being unloved, therefore unloving, thus making her incredibly unpleasant.

A nasty case of cholera comes through and kills Mary's parents and her ayah. The rest of the servants all flee, forgetting about Mary because she's an obnoxious little shit and no one likes her. She is found by some people and sent to live with her uncle Archibald Craven in England.

Upon arriving in England, she finds out her uncle also wants nothing to do with her and he's usually gone all of the time. A chambermaid, Martha, befriends Mary and helps her learn to dress herself and take care of herself a bit. One day, Martha tells Mary about a secret garden that is all locked up since Mrs. Craven died, because it was her favorite place. Mary, being bored and curious and lonely decides that she is going to find the garden.

During her searching, she befriends a grumpy old gardener who tells her more about the garden. She also befriends a robin, who flies around and does bird stuff. As Mary explores the grounds and develops an interest in her surroundings, she becomes more tolerable and healthier.  One day, Mary finds the key. Shortly thereafter, the robin shows her the way to the door, and Mary makes her way into the secret garden. The garden is gray and appears lifeless, so Mary decides she's going to bring it back to life. She enlists the help of Martha's brother, Dickon, to restore the garden.

Meanwhile.... some nights, Mary hears crying and doesn't know where its coming from. She wanders the halls trying to find it, but no one will fess up and tell her what the fuck is going on. Since she's kind of a nosy brat she takes it upon herself to figure out what's up.

She follows the sound of the incessant sobbing to a hidden door, and lets herself in. Inside, she finds a child even more sickly and obnoxious than herself. His name is Colin, he's a terrible hypochondriac and is convinced he's gonna die. He doesn't go outside, he doesn't walk, and he doesn't like people to look at him. He's also got some major daddy issues because good ol' Uncle Archie can't stand the sight of him because 1) he looks like his dead mom  2) Archibald Craven is mildly hunchbacked and he's afraid his son will be the same way and 3) Mr. Craven is gone pretty much all the time.

Stubborn Mary and spoiled Colin become friends while Mary's other friendship with Dickon (who is pretty much perfect) also grows while they work on the garden, which is kept secret from the adults. Soon, Colin grows jealous of Dickon and wants in on the garden scene. So Colin meets Dickon, and the kids arrange to have Colin brought outside, where Dickon will push him in his wheelchair.

Colin falls in love with the garden, and wants to go every day. He soon gets over his hypochondria and realizes his back and legs are perfectly fine, and he begins to walk and exercise in the garden. His activities are kept secret from the adults because he wants to surprise his father and win his affections by proving that he is perfectly healthy.

So, blah blah blah, flowers bloom, kids exercise, adults are confused by Colin's health and behavior seeming to get better. He throws fake tantrums and tries to be as bad as before, but his increasing health and happiness become too much to hide.

Mr. Craven, while abroad, begins randomly thinking about what a shoddy father he's been and decides he wants to do better when he gets home. One night he has a dream about his wife being in her garden, and it sticks with him.

When he gets home he asks his housekeeper about Colin, and she tells him he seems a lot better but has been acting strangely. He asks where he is, and she says he out in the gardens. He walks out to the gardens and hears laughter coming from the garden that was supposed to be locked up. As he walks to the door of the garden, Colin runs out after winning a race against Mary and runs right into his father. Archibald sees his son perfectly healthy and happy, Colin sees that his father is happy to see him and loves him, and the sap reading the book cries her eyes out while father and son walk back to the house. The end.

Great book- this blog absolutely does not do it justice!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

King Lear

"King Lear" is considered to be one of Shakespeare's greatest works of all time. OF ALL TIME! That's a pretty big order to fill!  I love gut-wrenching, convoluted, indecipherable tragedies just as much as the next gal- Romeo and Juliet has been a favorite of mine long before Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes totally nailed the modernized version on the big screen.  That being said, it took me a long time to trudge through it (who doesn't love trying to understand Shakespearian prose, amiright?) and there were definitely a few words I didn't understand, but the story still managed to shine through in all of it's depressing glory.

Long story short:
King Lear is a self-important aging ruler who is generally viewed as being eccentric. He asks his three daughters to describe how much they love him, and the one who does it best will get the largest piece of his kingdom. He totally expects his youngest and most favorite daughter, Cordelia, to give the best answer. His other daughters, Regan and Goneril, also expect Cordelia to win- but since they're self-serving wenches of the most conniving and competitive sort, they are masters at the art of ass kissery (if Shakespeare can invent words, so can I!).

Regan and Goneril perform their ass kissery with grace and false affection and impress their father as expected. When it comes to be Cordelia's turn, she bucks the trend by keeping it short and sweet, and says that she can't put her love for her father into words. This infuriates the vain crazy king, so he disinherits her and calls her a disgrace. The king of France, who has been making eyes at Cordelia for a while, says he will marry her even without her land- so she takes him up on the offer and moves to France without her father's blessing (and presumably eats a lot of tasty baked goods, because that is totally what I would do).

Before long, the true colors of Lear's eldest daughters shine through and their general mistreatment slowly drives him even more completely batshit insane, so that he's nuttier than a squirrel turd- which prompts him to run off and be crazy on the heath (big open area dominated by low growing woody vegetation- thanks Wikipedia!) during some nasty stormy weather.

While this is going on some nobleman, Gloucester, (who is loyal  to Lear) has to deal with his illegitimate son causing trouble. The illegitimate son, Edmund, is a total douche. He probably wears a lot of Ed Hardy and watches The Jersey Shore and thinks it's gospel. Aside from two-timing Regan and the married Goneril, he also convinces Gloucester that his legitimate son, Edgar, is out to kill him- thus causing a manhunt for Edgar. It's pretty much an episode of Jerry Springer from the middle ages.

Then some more bad stuff happens and pretty much everyone dies. Edgar kills Edmund, Goneril poisons Regan out of jealousy over Edmund, then poisons herself. Gloucester dies after spending most of the story blind after having his eyeballs forcibly removed. Cordelia dies after being needlessly executed in prison, and Lear dies from grief after losing Cordelia.

The end.

Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it? No? Me either!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Scarlet Letter

Firstly- sorry it took me so long! Life got in the way, and by 'life' I mean having two crazy kids under 3 and deciding to travel nearly 3,000 miles from home. But enough about me.

I never read The Scarlet Letter when I was in school, so I've heard about it, but had only the most vague idea of what it was about. Now that I've read it in its entirety I understand why it is a classic. It's beautifully written, has great character development, and a storyline which manages to stay relevant and relatable.

Long book short: Young and beautiful Hester Prynne arrives at a Puritan establishment in New England before her old and deformed husband gets there. A year passes, and nobody hears from Mr. Prynne. Hot young Hester hooks up with a hot young preacher (Aurthur Dimmesdale) and BAM! Hester gets knocked up with their hot young baby. Hester doesn't want to ruin the hot young preacher's reputation of being the best thing since Jesus, so she refuses to tell anyone who the father of her illicit love child is. Pregnancy goes on, baby is born (it's a girl!), and SURPRISE! Hester's creepy husband shows up after two years of not telling her anything only to see that she's had someone's baby. Luckily for him, no one has any idea who he is- so he tells Hester that since she ruined his life (*cough* total asshole! *cough*) she totally owes it to him to act like she doesn't know him so he can live his life as a doctor without his reputation being sullied by his whore wife. Oh, and he wants to know who baby's daddy is so he can destroy him. Hester refuses to tell him what he wants to know, so he vows to find out for himself and make the man's life a living Hell. The people of the town want Hester to be punished in various ways, but the young minister who shares Hester's secret calms them and votes for a milder sentence- a bright scarlet A (for 'adulteress') is to be worn on her breast at all times. So Hester stands on a platform and gets the letter pinned to her chest in front of the whole town. Hester and her baby girl, named Pearl, then go live out in the woods on the outskirts of town as outcasts.

Hester decorates her letter A using her amazing embroidery skills, her ex husband assumes the name of Roger Chillingworth and becomes a town doctor, and the virile young preacher begins getting more and more ill. Good old Roger Chillingworth figures out that the attractive preacher is Pearl's father, and becomes his personal physician so he can torment him without the preacher knowing that Roger is actually Hester's estranged husband.

Pearl becomes a precocious, intelligent child who doesn't fit in with her peers. She's beautiful and wild, and Hester makes beautiful clothes for her while keeping herself very plain.

The townsfolk at one point were going to try to take Pearl away from Hester because they didn't feel that Pearl was being brainwashed enough in accordance with Puritan doctrine, but sexy (kinda half dead looking by this point) preacher Dimmesdale steps in and changes their minds. Everyone assumes it is because he is pious and in touch with God- no one suspects that it is because he is actually Pearl's father.

Hester's embroidery skills make her an asset to the community, and since she remains sin-free aside from having a baby out of wedlock, she slowly regains some degree of respect from the townsfolk.

Some well-loved old guy dies late at night and a few key characters are milling about doing whatever it is that their specific character does. Aurthur is beating himself up psychologically for having loved Hester, for hiding the truth from the townspeople, and for being a big fat hypocrite because he's supposed to be all godly and stuff. Hester and Pearl walk by and see him, and we have a touching scene on the scaffold where Hester received her letter.

By this time, Roger Chillingworth is living with Aurthur Dimmesdale to 'take care of him' while he's ailing. But seriously... "Roger Chillingworth." How could they NOT know he was a bad guy? Anyway, Hester is pretty sick of his bullshit, so she decides that she's going to tell Dimmesdale what's going on...

Preacher Arthur Dimmesdale's health continues to deteriorate and he soon looks like the walking dead. He goes for a stroll in the woods, where he runs into Hester. Hester fesses up that Chillingworth is actually her estranged husband who wants to make him miserable until he's dead.

They talk and realize that they are still in love, and Pearl (now 7) figures out who her daddy is, but is angry that he won't publicly acknowledge them. Hester and Arthur talk of hopping on the next boat out of there and living happily ever after. They make plans to bail, and they begin trying up their personal affairs (ha ha- get it?) so they can sail off into the sunset.

Arthur has a big fancy sermon he's supposed to give for an election festival the day before he and Hester hop on a boat and sail away. So he finishes writing his speech, confident that it is his best sermon ever.

The day of the sermon arrives, and everyone gathers to hear it. Dimmesdale appears to have some of his old spark back, in spite of looking like he's going to keel over at any moment. He gives his sermon, and while he is speaking Hester learns that her good friend Chillingworth has booked himself on the same boat that she and Dimmesdale were using to make their escape. The sermon wraps up, the band marches on, and Dimmesdale spots Hester and Pearl near the scaffold where she was punished. Dimmesdale is so sick and emaciated that he can barely walk, but he stumbles over to Hester and asks her to help him climb the scaffold. They make it to the top, where he announces to everyone there that Pearl is his daughter. Pearl kisses him, and then he keels over dead. Chillingworth is devastated that he never got to complete his tormenting of Aurthur in the way he wanted because he's a stupid asshole who needs to get over shit.

Chillingworth dies a year later, and leaves a nice chunk of money to Pearl. Hester and Pearl leave, and many years later Hester comes back to live in her little cottage in the woods alone.

This is a seriously good book, and rightfully considered a literary classic. It is definitely a book of substance, I don't recommend if you're just looking for a brainless-yet-entertaining read. It should be read when you have time to chew it over and absorb its depth.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The first book I finished since starting this blog is the Jane Austen classic, Emma. True to much of the fine English literature written at the time, Emma features a lot of irrelevant material about nothing in particular- thus adding length without substance. Most of the characters are engaging, and the storyline itself is quite good, but it's kind of a drag to read.

Jane Austen herself once commented that she didn't think many people would like the title character. I can only assume that this is because Emma is a spoiled, self-important twit who thinks she knows everything... If you took the vapid, self-absorbed hotness of your least favorite high school cheerleader/model/actress, multiplied it by the know-it-all behavior of Hermione Granger from Harry Potter (minus the magic and scholarly pursuits) and divided THAT by the matchmaking prowess of Patti from T.V's Millionaire Matchmaker, you would have the character of Emma.

To make a really long story short: Emma is a meddling twit who credits herself for her sister getting married. This inspires her to try to set up a girl she befriends, Harriet, with a guy who is totally out of her league (Mr. Elton) while discouraging Harriet from marrying the guy who is in love with her and is totally perfect for her- all because he doesn't have enough money for Emma to think he's important. A good family friend who is also Emma's brother-in-law tries to tell Emma that her notions are totally whack, but she's too much of a dumb bitch to believe him. Mr. Elton turns out to be a total dick who wants to marry Emma for her money, thus Harriet's stupid little heart (nice girl, but kind of a moron) gets broken. Mr. Elton instead marries an even bigger twit than Emma, and everyone with half an ounce of sense wants to punch her face in; but no one does because it's England and they all have exceptional manners and sexy accents. A whole bunch of people who have no bearing on the body of the story weave in and out of the picture doing random B.S. and it turns out that two of them were secretly engaged the whole time (oh, snap!) and it creates a scandal and a lot of embarrassment because everyone has too good of manners and too much free time. Harriet decides she has the hots for Emma's brother-in-law because he was nice to her, and that makes Emma realize that she's totally in love with him. Turns out he's been in love with her since she was 13 (eeeeew, CREEEEPY!!!!) and poor Harriet gets screwed over again. Then the guy who wasn't 'good enough' for Harriet comes back into the picture, and she decides that she loves him no matter what Emma thinks- which is super convenient because Emma eventually realizes that she is a spoiled, self-important twit and has a major change of heart. Everyone gets married and lives happily ever after, and by the end of the book you no longer want to beat Emma's head in.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Books

Hello, internets! My name is Jess, I'm pushing 30, and I'm a bit of a book whore. I have two young daughters (both under the age of 3 at the time of this post), a wonderful husband (who, being thoroughly male, often drives me bonkers- but I truly love him), two cats, and a stupid little dog named Rocky. We live in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Nice to meet you!

I recently purchased '100 Classic Books' for my DSi portable game system, and I've decided to read them all and write my interpretation of them here. I read books fairly quickly, so it shouldn't take more than a couple days between posts. Once I've finished reading these 100 classics, I intend to read some more modern novels, possible chosen by any followers who wander onto this blog.

Thanks for checking me out, and happy reading!